Tag Archives: Education

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.

 

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

Cuba in Transition: Volume 20 Proceedings of the Twentieth Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy

The papers from the 2010 meetings of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy have just been posted on the ASCE Web Site and can be found at Papers and Proceedings of the Twentieth Annual Meeting of ASCE.

As usual, a wide range of excellent papers are presented at ASCE’s annual meetings Many essays include valuable, original and ground-breaking analyses on a wide range of economic as well as socio-economic and politico-economic issues..

A Table of Contents with hyperlinked titles of the papers is included below.

Preface

Conference Program

Table of Contents

The Cuban Economy in 2010 as Seen by Economists Within the Island and Other Observers

Joaquín P. Pujol

La Economía Cubana: ¿Tiempos de Esperanza?

Oscar Espinosa Chepe

Crisis Management of Cuban International Liquidity

Luis R. Luis

If It Were Just the Marabú… Cuba’s Agriculture 2009-10

G.B. Hagelberg

The Numbers Diet: Food Imports as Economic Indicators

Lauren Gifford

Government-Controlled Travel Costs to Cuba and Costs of Related Consular Services: Analysis and International Comparisons

Sergio Díaz-Briquets

Envios de Remesas a Cuba: Desarrollo, Evolución e Impacto

Emilio Morales Dopico

Dashed Expectations: Raúl Castro’s Management of The Cuban Economy, 2006–2010

Jorge F. Pérez-López

Cuba: ¿Hacia otro “Periodo Especial”?

Mario A. González-Corzo

Cuban Education and Human Capital Formation

Enrique S. Pumar

La Masonería Cubana y su Contribución a la Sociedad Civil

Jorge Luis Romeu

The Internet and Emergent Blogosphere in Cuba: Downloading Democracy, Booting Up Development, or Planting the Virus of Dissidence and Destabilization?

Ted Henken

El Insostenible Apoyo Económico de Venezuela a Cuba y sus Implicaciones

Rolando H. Castañeda

Cuba-Venezuela Health Diplomacy: The Politics of Humanitarianism

Maria C. Werlau

British Policy-Making and Our Leyland in Havana (1963–1964)

Maria Carla Chicuén

La Desigualdad en Cuba: El Color Cuenta

Natalie Kitroeff

A Macroeconomic Approach to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Inflow from the People’s Republic of China to Cuba

Orlando R. Villaverde

A Survey of the Relationship between Cuba and China: A Chinese Perspective

Pin Zuo

The Evolution of the Cuban Military: A Comparative Look at the FAR with the
Bureaucratic-Authoritarian Model of South America

Michael Aranda

Empowering the Cuban People Through Access to Technology

Cuba Study Group

The Global Economic and Financial Crisis and Cuba’s Healthcare and Biotechnology Sector: Prospects For Survivorship and Longer-term Sustainability

Elaine Scheye

Globalization and the Socialist Multinational: Cuba and ALBA’s Grannacional Projects at the Intersection of Business and Human Rights

Larry Catá Backer

Racismo Estructural en Cuba y Disidencia Política: Breves Antecedentes

Ramón Humberto Colás

Arbitration and Mediation: Impartial Forums to Resolve International Commercial Disputes in Cuba

Rolando Anillo-Badia

Gazing at the Green Light: The Legal and Business Aspects of Real Property Investment in Cuba

Richard M. David

The Creation and Evolution of the Legal Black Hole at Guantánamo Bay

Michael J. Strauss

Las Relaciones Cuba-Israel: A la Espera de una Nueva Etapa

Arturo López-Levy

Revolutionary Cuba’s GDP: A Survey of Methods and Estimates

Jorge F. Pérez-López

A Dynamic Factor Model of Quarterly Real Gross Domestic Product Growth in the Caribbean: The Case of Cuba and the Bahamas

Philip Liu and Rafael Romeu

Cuba’s Attempts at Democracy: The Colony

Roger R. Betancourt

Lessons Learned from 20 Years of Privatization: Albania, Estonia and Russia

Jorge A. Sanguinetty and Tania Mastrapa

The Cuban Tourism Sector: A Note On Performance in the first Decade of the 21st Century

María Dolores Espino

Prospects for Tourism in Cuba: Report on the Residential Sales/Leases in Golf and Marina Developments

Antonio R. Zamora

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

CARMELO MESA-LAGO and PAVEL VIDAL-ALEJANDRO, “The Impact of the Global Crisis on Cuba’s Economy and Social Welfare”

Journal of Latin American Studies. 42, 689–717,  Cambridge University Press, 2010

Carmelo Mesa-Lago and Pavel Vidal have teamed up to produce a fine analysis of the impacts of the world recession of 2009-201o on Cuba,  its macro-economy and its social sectors.  It is certainly encouraging to see such cooperation in the economics discipline! The article can be found here: Pavel Vidal and Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Cuba economic social impact crisis-JLAS-11 (2)

Abstract.The mechanisms by which the world economic crisis has been transmitted from developed to developing economies are conditioned by domestic factors that may attenuate or accentuate external economic shocks and their adverse social effects. Cuba is a special case : it is an open economy and hence vulnerable to trade growth transmission mechanisms, but at the same time, it is a socialist economy with universal social services. This article reviews the literature, summarises Cuba’s domestic socio-economic strengths and weaknesses prior to the crisis, evaluates the effects of the crisis on the macro-economic and social services indicators, assesses the government response and suggests alternative socio-economic policies.

Carmelo Mesa-Lago

 

Pavel Vidal

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

Carmelo Mesa-Lago: “Cincuenta años de servicios sociales en Cuba”

Carmelo Mesa-Lago. Professor Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh

Hyperlink: Revista TEMAS, no. 64: 45-56, octubre-diciembre de 2010

Revista Temas has published a valuable work by Carmelo Mesa-Lago analysing Cuba’s major social issues, namely health, education, pensions, and housing, and drawing on the work of various analysts from the Centro de Estudios sobre la Economia Cubana. Inclusion of Mesa-Lago’s work in Revista TEMAS is indeed encouraging in my view and contrasts with the situation some 25 years ago when he and other Cuban-American analysts were villified as “Cubanologos.”

Here is the Table of Contents for  followed by its concluding session. Unfortunately an English translation is not available right now.

Introducción

Evolución de los servicios sociales (1959-2000

Costo actual de los servicios sociales en Cuba

Un caso de estudio: el costo creciente de las pensiones

Capacidad económica para sostener los servicios sociales a largo plazo

Cambios necesarios para mejorar y hacer sustentables los servicios sociales

No es posible resolver los problemas que los costosos servicios sociales enfrentan sin un aumento de la producción, la productividad y las exportaciones que permitan, a su vez, reducir las importaciones. Pero para lograrlo, se necesita implementar las reformas estructurales anunciadas por el presidente Raúl Castro y recomendadas por numerosos economistas cubanos.

El tema de la sostenibilidad de los servicios sociales ha sido planteado por varios economistas cubanos. Viviana Togores y Anicia García consideran que

la crisis económica y el proceso de ajuste han mostrado que la preservación de los beneficios sociales debe transitar hacia una nueva etapa donde su sustentabilidad financiera quede asociada al desarrollo de la economía y los cambios estructurales y organizativos [necesarios] […] las decisiones de política social deben tomarse no solo teniendo en cuenta las funciones sociales, sino que debenrespetar los principios de equilibrio económico.34

Por ejemplo, la seguridad y asistencia socials agravan seriamente el déficit fiscal y su carga, hoy solo asumida por el Estado; debe ser compartida por otros contribuyentes (los trabajadores). Mayra Espina agrega:

El primer reto [de la renovación social] es el de la sustentabilidad económica de la política de desarrollo social […] es necesario encontrar fórmulas de reinserción  de la economía cubana en los mercados internacionales que reactiven la producción interna y doten a los programas sociales de los recursos suficientes, sin los cuales siempre estarán enfrentados al déficit.35

Las decisiones cruciales sobre la economía y los servicios sociales competen a los cubanos. Pero a  diferencia de la crisis de los años 90, en que hubo una estrategia para hacerles frente, en la presente esta no se ha definido. El VI Congreso del PCC, anunciado inicialmente para fines de 2008, debe decidir los lineamientos económicos para el próximo quinquenio y también dictar las directrices en materia de servicios sociales. Habiendo dedicado cincuenta años de mi vida al estudio de este tema en toda América Latina, incluida  Cuba, hago unas sugerencias —parte de estas coinciden con las de economistas y académicos cubanos— como aporte para el debate. A mi juicio, sería posible aumentar el ingreso fiscal y reducir el gasto social, mediante mejoras en la asignación y uso de los recursos, con las medidas siguientes:

Educación: En la enseñanza elemental habría que transferir fondos hacia el pago de mejores sueldos a los maestros (en vista de la caída en la fecundidad y de la población en edad primaria) y, en la secundaria,  riorizar la educación vocacional. Respecto a la superior, Juan  Triana propone invertir más en las carreras técnicas y las que contribuyen al conocimiento, aunque son más costosas que las humanidades, la pedagogía y las ciencias sociales.36 Las carreras científicas son esenciales para el desarrollo, incluyendo la administración de negocios y la economía moderna, por lo que habría que transferor recursos de carreras no tan esenciales, imponiéndoles cuotas y estándares de ingreso más estrictos. Ya en 2008-2009 se estaba reduciendo la matrícula en medicina, humanidades y ciencias sociales, pero también en agronomía y ciencias técnicas.37 Además, habría que continuar y expandir las medidas recién iniciadas que  establecen exámenes de ingreso para la educación superior y requisitos más estrictos de admisión, lo cual ayudaría a aumentar la relación de graduados por matriculados; considerar el establecimiento de pago de matrículas en las universidades a los grupos de altos ingresos, y legalizar el trabajo por cuenta propia de los maestros y profesores.

Salud: Sería aconsejable priorizar la infraestructura de agua potable y alcantarillado,38 reasignar los recursos destinados a la continuada reducción de la mortalidad infantil (un problema resuelto hace años) hacia la reparación de la infraestructura deteriorada, la importación de medicinas, la disminución de la mortalidad materna y otras áreas de mayor necesidad; subordinar el número de profesionales de la salud que  trabajan en el extranjero a las necesidades internas, e invertir parte de los ingresos en divisas que generan sus servicios en la mejora de las instalaciones y equipos  internos y el suministro de medicinas; convertir  hospitales de  aternidad y pediatría que tienen bajas tasas de ocupación en hospitales geriátricos y asilos para ancianos; terminar las becas a estudiantes extranjeros y cobrar el costo básico de los servicios que hoy se regalan  a otros países; cargar el costo de cuartos privados al grupo de altos ingresos de la población cubana; autorizar el trabajo por cuenta propia del personal de salud y permitir la organización de cooperativas médicas.

Pensiones de seguridad social: Habría que realizar un studio que determine cuál es la cotización de  quilibrio del sistema; establecer cotizaciones a todos los trabajadores de empresas no estatales con un mínimo de empleados, incorporándolos al sistema; cargar a los trabajadores por cuenta propia y empleados en el sector  rivado el mismo 5% que paga parte de los asalariados (en lugar de 10% y 15%) para promover su afiliación; ajustar las pensiones al costo de la vida, lo que requiere, primero, aumentar la producción y la productividad y, a su vez, avanzar en las reformas estructurales. Medidas más complejas serían cerrar el actual sistema de pensiones, que el Estado se haga responsable de las pensiones en curso de pago, y crear un nuevo sistema público para los asegurados jóvenes y los nuevos trabajadores, con una reserva que se invierta para generar un retorno del capital y ayudar en el financiamiento a largo plazo y mejorar las pensiones.

Vivienda: Rafael Hernández argumenta que la ley originalmente estipuló que la vivienda es propiedad de los ciudadanos, y es lógico que ellos puedan hacer con ella lo que quieran, venderla y también comprarla; además, hay que facilitar que la gente pueda reparar y construir viviendas por medios propios.39 Habría que proporcionar a la población el acceso a materiales de construcción, y otorgar pequeños créditos estatales rembolsables con interés para la construcción y reparación de viviendas; permitir el uso de la casa propia como colateral para obtener  réstamos destinados a su reparación; posibilitar la inversión de remesas externas en esas actividades; eliminar el actual sistema de permutas y autorizar la compraventa con regulaciones adecuadas.

Asistencia social. Para reducir la pobreza, Lía Añé recomienda eliminar la dualidad monetaria,

disminuir la segmentación del mercado, mejorar los salaries más bajos, y consolidar y evaluar la efectividad de los nuevos programas sociales.40 Pedro Campos propone eliminar la libreta de racionamiento, previa concesión de subsidios directos focalizados en las personas de bajos ingresos, y un reajuste salarial para compensar el incremento de precios que ocurriría.41 Alexis Codina agrega que los cuantiosos recursos fiscales asignados a subsidios de precios por la libreta, recibidos por todos, independientemente de sus ingresos, deberían quedar solo para la población más vulnerable y el resto utilizaría el mercado.

En mi opinión, el sistema de racionamiento no debería aliminarse de golpe, pues o bien sería muy  costoso o dejaría parte de los necesitados sin protección. Lo ideal sería hacerlo gradualmente, de manera paralela a los incrementos en la producción y la productividad  que resulten de reformas estructurales, a la par que se focaliza la asistencia social en toda la población pobre y vulnerable, a fin de crear una amplia red mínima de protección. Ello requeriría mecanismos eficientes para determinar el grado de necesidad de la población y una estimación confiable de la incidencia de pobreza. También habría que permitir a iglesias y ONG que establezcan y expandan asilos gratuitos para ancianos pobres con ayuda externa directa.

La Revolución transformó los servicios socials —salvo la vivienda—,  universalizó su cobertura, eliminó desigualdades entre grupos de ingreso y zonas urbanas y rurales, y otorgó servicios gratuitos de calidad. Las crisis de los años 90 y la actual, unidas a deficiencias de las políticas económicas, han afectado severamente esos servicios y agravado su falta de sustentabilidad a largo plazo. Resulta crucial, por tanto, implementar  las reformas estructurales necesarias y los cambios en dichos servicios para restaurar su calidad y garantizarlos a las generaciones futuras.

.

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

Still the “Bestest” and the “Worstest” and Maybe the Most Opaque: Cuba in the 2010 UNDP Human Development Report

By Arch Ritter

The 2010 UNDP Human Development Report , published on November 5, 2010, presents the definitive and much-awaited “Report Card” on the social, economic, political, environmental and security dimensions of development for all countries of the world. In this Report, Cuba fares well in some indices, badly on others, but is also “out-of-the-running” on the major UNDP Human Development Indices due to lack of reliable information.

The whole of the UNDP Human Development Report can be accessed here:   2010http://hdr.undp.org/en/mediacentre/

Here are a few of the interesting comparative insights and results for Cuba.

1.      Main Human Development Indices

Cuba is excluded from the main Human Development Indices that the UNDP presents, namely the Human Development Index (Table 1), the Inequality-adjusted Human development Index (HDI) (Table 2) and the Multidimensional Poverty Index (Table 5)  as well as the HDI Trends from 1980 to 2010 (Table 3). This is unfortunate because it is not possible this year to make a comparison of Cuba with other countries or with itself over time.

Due to the existence of the dual exchange rate system in which there is no reasonable single exchange rate, together with the complexity of the highly segmented markets – underground economy, rationing system, farmer’s markets, non-market allocation of some goods and services, and quasi-dollar stores – it was concluded by the UNDP that it was impossible at this time to construct a measure of GDP per capita in purchasing power terms as is done for some 169 other countries. . The UNDP apparently is working with the Government of Cuba to correct this situation. The UNDP’s explanation of the problem is presented in Appendix 1.

2.      Gender Inequality Index

Cuba comes first in Latin America and 47th in the world for this measure, which includes maternal mortality rates, adolescent fertility rate, share of parliamentary seats held by each sex, attainment at secondary and higher education, labor market participation rates, contraception availability, and births attended by health personnel (Table 4).

3.      “Empowerment”” Measures

In a new dimension of its analysis (Table 6), the UNDP brings together a variety of indicators of human “empowerment.”  Cuba fares uniformly badly, and indeed worst in Latin America for many measures:

  • “Democracy”: worst in Latin America;
  • “Press Freedom”: worst in the world, including China;
  • “Satisfaction with Freedom of Choice”: worst in Latin America, with 26% and 28% satisfaction for males and females respectively;
  • “Journalists Imprisoned”: worst in the world with the exception of  China;
  • “Human Rights Violations”: among the worst.

4.      Education

Cuba fares well in education generally (Table 13). One notable feature of Cuba’s comparative experience is that it has the largest tertiary education enrolment in the Hemisphere and the world at 121.5% compared to an average of 36.5% for all of Latin America.

How can this be? Presumably more people than are in the normal tertiary education age cohort are attending colleges or University. This is the result of increasing the supply of tertiary education, by creating alleged “Universities” in every Municipality, plus an increase in the demand for higher education by those who have been put out of work in various areas including the sugar sector. It is difficult to know without further information if the 121.5% figure represents an achievement or a gross misallocation of resources given that Cuba needs to produce real products in agriculture and industry, and seems to be overproducing university graduates – not unlike some higher income countries .

5.      Health

As is well-known, Cuba also fares well in health measures and has been particularly successful in squeezing strong health outcomes from very scarce resources (Table 14).

One interesting measure is the number of doctors per 10,000 people that stands at 64 for Cuba. This again is the highest ration by far in Latin America and the world. Again, this looks like an over-allocation of resources to the “doctor” category in health. However, given that the 30,000 doctors abroad are now the largest earner of foreign exchange for Cuba, it is likely that this over-abundant resource is now being used effectively.

6.      Access to Information and Communications Technology.

Cuba’s performance is in communications and access information is also the weakest in the Hemisphere. Here are a number of indicators noted by the UNDP (Table 16).

  • The access of Cubans to land-line and mobile telephones stands at 13%. This is by far the lowest in the Hemisphere. Even the lower income countries in the region have much higher access to telephones, with Haiti at 33%, Nicaragua 60%, Guatemala 120%; Grenada 86%, El Salvador 131%, Paraguay 103%m and Honduras 96%.
  • The cost of a mobile telephone connection in Cuba is by far the highest in the world, at $120.00.  Obviously this limits the demand for mobile connections and helps explain Cuba’s 13% access rate.
  • Access to the internet is particularly low at 12.9 per 100 persons, though not the lowest in the Hemisphere.
  • The proportion of the population with personal computers was estimated at 5.6 per 100 persons, again low but not the lowest in the Hemisphere.

This illustration shows the HDI trajectories for all countries of the world from 1980 to 2010, excepting Cuba and a few others.
Appendix !: Purchasing power parity conversions and the HDI: an illustration with the case of Cuba (Source: UNDP,  HDR 2010, p.138).

The HDI uses internationally comparable data on gross national income (GNI) per capita from the World Bank (2010g). These data are expressed using a conversion factor that allows comparisons of prices across countries. This conversion, known as purchasing power parity (PPP), is necessary to take into account differences in the value of a dollar across countries.  Four countries have data on all HDI components except for GNI: Cuba, Iraq, Marshall Islands and Palau. For three of these countries (Cuba, Marshall Islands and Palau) this is due to the fact that they do not participate in the International Comparisons Program. Iraq lacks information about GNI for the last 10 years.
To illustrate the options and problems that arise in attempting to reliably estimate GNI per capita in PPP terms, Cuba is used as an example. One well known approach to estimating GNI—used by the Center for International Comparisons of Production, Income and Prices at the University of Pennsylvania (Heston, Summers and Aten 2009)—is a regression that relies on data from the salaries of international civil servants converted at the official exchange rate. However, because the markets in which foreigners purchase goods and services tend to be separated from the rest of the economy, these data can be a weak guide to the prices citizens face in practice. The Center for International Comparisons of Production, Income and Prices recognizes this problem, rating its own estimate of Cuba’s GDP as a “D” (the lowest grade).
An alternative estimate applies the exchange rate used in Cuba and the PPP conversion of an economy with similar attributes, but this method goes against the principle of using a country’s legally recognized exchange rate and prices to convert its national aggregates to an international currency. Another option is to not apply any PPP correction factor to the official exchange rate for convertible pesos. Both of these options yield far lower estimated income than the PPP correction does. The wide variation in income estimates arising from these different techniques indicates that no single robust method exists in the absence of reliable data.
Posted in Blog, Featured | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jump-Starting the Introduction of Conventional Western Economics in Cuba

By Arch Ritter

I.   Initiation of the Joint Havana-Carleton Universities Economics MA  

As the Cuban economy was sinking into the nadir of its depression following the ending of the “Special Relationship” with the former Soviet Union, the Faculty of Economics at the University of Havana decided that the time was right to introduce conventional economics into University curricula and into Cuba generally. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the transition to mixed economies throughout Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, the Soviet version of the discipline of Economics virtually disappeared. Cuban economists were left orphaned with a discipline that had become extinct. They generally were unfamiliar with the near-universal language of economics and found it difficult to communicate in the discipline with their colleagues in Latin America and the rest of the world.

This move to introduce conventional economics was spear-headed by Dra. Lourdes Tabares, who was the Chair of the Economics Department at the University of Havana at the time. It had broad though far from unanimous support within the University.

A meeting was arranged in early December 1993 in Havana to discuss alternative approaches to accelerating the process of developing instruction in conventional economics. Financed by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and coordinated by Dr. Gary McMahon, this meeting brought together a number of academics and officials from Chile and Argentina and me from Canada, with University of Havana counterparts.

A decision was reached at that meeting to organize a joint MA program in Economics mainly for young faculty members from Cuban Universities to be given in Cuba at the University of Havana. An agreement was subsequently reached between the President of Carleton University, Dr. Robin Farquhar and the Rector of the University of Havana. Juan Vela, to provide the Carleton program adapted to the circumstances of Cuba.

The program was conceived in December 1993 and was up and running six months later in Havana.

The Economics MA was financed for the first two years by the IDRC and was supported by Gary McMahon and Pierre Beemans. Following that, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) financed another three years of the MA Program. The program received crucial support from the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America (UN ECLAC), which lent its good name as a co-sponsor of the program and provided about 40% of the faculty at its own expense. Particularly vital was the support of Francisco Leon and the Secretary General Gert Rosenthal of UN ECLAC. The Canadian Embassy in Havana, notably through Ambassador Mark Entwistle and Nobina Robinson, were instrumental in the extension of the program. CIDA was so pleased with the first two IDRC-financed years that it decided to extend the Economics MA for an additional three years.

It also agreed to expand collaboration between Carleton University and the University of Havana for five years and to five other units at the two Universities: Biology, Business, Linguistics, Women’s Studies and Public Administration. Professors were recruited from a number of Latin American countries as well as Canada. Among the contributing professors were

  • Canada: Keith Acheson, Zhiqi Chen, Donald McFetridge, Gary McMahon, Carl McMillan, Soo Bin Park, Simon Power, Arch Ritter, Nicholas Rowe, Larry Willmore (also with the United Nations), and Frances Woolley.
  • UN ECLAC: Ricardo Ffrench-Davis, Michael Mortimer, Bernardo Kosakoff Juan Carlos Lerda, Luis Felipe Jimenez, , Jorge Katz, , Joe Ramos, Daniel Titelman.
  • Argentina: Jose Maria Fanelli. Mario Damill, Guillermo Rozenwurcel
  • Bolivia: Juan Antonio Morales
  • Brazil: Ricardo Paez de Barras
  • Peru: Alberto Pasco-Font

Senior Cuban professors worked with the visiting Canadian and Latin American professors and took over some of the classes. Among the Cuban professors were Felix Marero, Elena Hernandez, Lourdes Tabares, Nelida Gancedo, Vilma Hidalgo, Manuel Miranda, Frank Hidalgo, Ela de Quezada, Raul Sandoval, Celia Fernandez, Ermida Gonzalez and, and Marta Madero.  

 

II. Impacts of the Program

The objective of the five years of the MA Economics Program was to support the introduction of conventional economics into the curriculum of Cuba’s universities. From this perspective, I think that it could be considered to have been reasonably successful. At the University of Havana for example, a program in conventional economics was initiated quickly and is in operation. Similarly the University of Oriente soon established a conventional economics program, under the leadership of the MA graduate Ulisses Pacheco who became Dean of the Faculty. These programs have been producing some impressive graduates and new academics for over a decade.

A substantial number of the MA graduates went on to earn Doctoral degrees in Economics both inside Cuba, notably in a program with the University of Barcelona and outside Cuba at Carleton University, Ottawa Canada. However, significant numbers of the graduates have emigrated and built their lives elsewhere. This is undoubtedly a loss for Cuba, as all were just at the early stages of their productive professional and family lives. (Remittances are small compensation for this loss.) 

Of the 76 graduates of the program, 16 now are employed in Cuban Universities, 22 have other employment in Cuba, most in government, 7 were citizens of other countries and have returned to their own countries, and 31 have left Cuba. The visiting professors were particularly happy with the level of qualification and the strong commitment and motivation of the Cuban students. It was a positive and pleasant experience for all the professors involved. There were of course some minor frictions in the implementation of the program but surprisingly few and most were resolved quickly and satisfactorily. 

One such issue was a conflict with the Ministry of Cooperation and Foreign Investment, MINVEC. The problem was that the University of Havana had entered into an agreement with Carleton and IDRC but had not gone through MINVEC. It was some five months after the beginning of the program in July 1994 that MINVEC finally gave its approval.

Another issue that had to be dealt with has been described by Luis Casaco in a his Blog entitled “historias mínimas – short tales, palabras, amigos y un poco de música”,  and can be seen at the following address: when carleton university knocked my door at  http://kaskouy.blogspot.com/2008/03/when-carleton-university-knocked-door.html.

 

III. Where are They Now: Graduates of the Havana-Carleton Economics MA, 1995-1999

As of October 15, 2010 This listing is based on information mainly from around 2002. Much has happened since then, and undoubtedly there are many inaccuracies. Please forward any corrections that you may be aware of regarding locations and employment or contact information. Please send any corrections or new information to Arch_Ritter@Carleton.Ca

1994-1995 COHORT

  • Raul Ávila Rodríguez, Ottawa Canadá
  • Regino Boti Llanes, Londres, RU
  • Idania Coello Caballero, La Habana, Cuba
  • Ledya Fernández Lleal, Facultad de Economía, Universidad de La Habana, Cuba
  • Luis René Fernández Tabío, Instituto de Investigaciones (CESEU), La Habana, Cuba
  • Nélida Lamelas Castellano. University of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago, España
  • María Rosa Moreno Fernández, PNUD, La Habana, Cuba
  • Ulises Pacheco Feria, Decano, Facultad de Economía, Universidad de Oriente, Santiago de Cuba
  • Carmen Quintela F., (Facultad de Economía, Universidad de La Habana,) Cuba, Deceased
  • María C. Sabourin Jovel, Miami USA 
  • Mario Sánchez Egozcue, Centro de Estudios sobre la Economía Cubana, La Habana, Cuba
  • Juana Sánchez Mesa, PNUD, La Habana, Cuba
  • José Somoza Cabrera, Dpto. del Medio Ambiente, Universidad de La Habana, La Habana, Cuba
  • Magda Valera Cepero, Miami, Estados Unidos
  • Ignacio Vera Paneque, Naciones Unidas, Nueva York

Class of 1995-1996

  • Fausto Arias Araluce, “Interholdings” Spain
  • Even Chi Pardo (ciudadano panameño) Universidad de Panamá, Panamá
  • Pablo Crespo Brito, Barcelona, España
  • Bernardo Cutié Rizo, Miami, Estados Unidos
  • Gelvis de Armas O., Facultad, ISRI, La Habana, Cuba
  • Pierre Fils Aimee, (ciudadano haitiano) Toronto, Canadá
  • Idania Gancedo Gaspar, Facultad de Economía, Universidad de La Habana, Cuba
  • Eduardo Hernández Roque, Banco Central de Cuba, La Habana, Cuba
  • Nelson Lim Chang, Departamento de Economía, Universidad de Oriente, Santiago de Cuba
  • Boris Moreno Capote, Iglesia Católica, San Antonio de los banos, Cuba
  • Olga Pérez Soto, Facultad de Economía, Universidad de La Habana, Cuba
  • Amarylis Rodríguez R., Ferris Management Ltd., La Habana, Cuba
  • Maria Sanabria Pis, Banco Central de Cuba, La Habana, Cuba
  • Javier Tella Reyes, USA
  • Jorge A. Uriarte Landa, Gobierno de Canadá, Ottawa, Canadá

Class of 1996-1997

  • Alex Gay Cabrera, ¿Alemania?
  • Yuri Gracia Morales, Integral S. A., La Habana, Cuba
  • Arturo López Callejas, Universidad de Denver, Estados Unidos
  • Ricardo Mansilla Corona, Center for interdisciplinary Research in Sciences and the Humanities of the National University of Mexico (UNAM) Ciudad de Mexico. Web site :  http://www.ceiich.unam.mx/0/13PerCur.php?tblPersonalAcademico_id=12  
  • René Mujica López, España
  • Mahe Parodi Heydrich, Mississauga, Canadá
  • Karel Regalado Alonso, Tembec, Temiskiming, Canadá
  • Judith Rodríguez Marcial, FinTur (empresa financiera) La Habana, Cuba
  • Luciano Rondón Hernández, Montreal, Canada
  • Ana Julia Yanes Faya, Gobierno de Canadá, Ottawa, Canadá

Class of 1997-1998

  • Alexis Aguilera Borges, Cuzco, Peru  
  • Raysa Alcalá Martínez, Investigadora, Oficina Nacional de Administración Tributaria (ONAT), La Habana, Cuba
  • Alberto Baly Gil, ¿Cuba?
  • Luis Casaco, Montevideo, Uruguay
  • Vladimir Díaz, Empresa Seguridad y Protección, La Habana, Cuba
  • Yaimí Farías Dominguez, Miami, Estados Unidos
  • Tania García, Facultad de Economía, Universidad de Oriente, Santiago de Cuba
  • Abel Izquierdo Falcón, Profesor, Universidad Central de Las Villas, Cuba
  • Ernesto Landa Falcón, Gobierno de Cuba, La Habana, Cuba
  • Adrián López Denis, Profesor, Universidad Princeton, Princeton, Estados Unidos
  • Osmel Martínez Trujillo, Toronto, Canadá
  • Cristian Meneses Torres (ciudadano chileno), ¿Chile?
  • Hector Molina, Facultad de Economía, Universidad Central de Las Villas, Cuba
  • Antonio Ruiz Cruz, Facultad de Economía, Universidad de Las Villas, Santa Clara
  • Esteban Salido Gamboa, Miami, United States
  • Víctor Sombart, Faculty de Economía, Universidad de Oriente, Santiago de Cuba
  • Thanh Huong Tran (“Alina”), (ciudadano vietnamita) Viet Nam
  • Eileen Tur, Toronto, Canadá

Class of 1998-1999

  • Maritza Álvares Herrera, Miami, Estados Unidos
  • Hamma Bachra Ahmed, (ciudadano saharaui), Sahara Occidental
  • Maria Boiko, (ciudadana ucraniana) Ucrania
  • Vilma Cervantes R., La Habana, Cuba
  • Marco Díaz Díaz, La Habana, Cuba, (deceased)
  • Kim Frederick, (ciudadano granadino) Grenada
  • Antonio Galis-Menéndez, Estados Unidos Radamés Gonzáles, Santiago de Chile
  • Tatiana González, Ministerio de Comercio Exterior, La Habana, Cuba
  • Luis Gutiérrez Urdaneta, La Habana, Cuba
  • Zoe Medina Valdés, Facultad de Economía, Universidad de La Habana, Cuba
  • Yenniel Mendoza, Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Económicas, La Habana, Cuba
  • Mavis Morales, Rusia
  • Ana M. Pérez de la Cruz, Panamá
  • Heidi Portuondo C., Barcelona, España Eduardo Ramos D., n.a. Cuba
  • Lester Rodríguez, Business Analyst, Finantix (Italian financial software house),
  • Padua Italy Paul Valdes-Miranda, Market Research Analyst, Ciudad Mexico, Mexico
  • Katty Yeja López, Bahamas

At the Inauguration of the Program, Ambassador’s Residence,September 1994 Gary McMahon, Ambassador Mark Entwisle, Francisco Leon, and Lourdes Tabares

Nicholas Rowe, teaching a Macroeconomics class, October 1994

 

Class of 1996-1997 From left to Right: Nicki; Nicki’s son Junior, (Canadian, not known), Elizabeth Rohr (Carleton University), Rene Mujica, Victor Sombert,  Luciano Rondon,  Ana Julia Yanes Faya, Mahe Parodi, Karel Regalado, E. V. Diaz, Judith Rodriguez, Yuri Gracia,  

Class of 1997-1998   From left to right, Back:  Osmel Martinez, Yaimi Farias Dominguez, Raysa Alcala, Ernesto Landa, Belkis, Alberto Baly, Alina, Paul Valdes-Miranda, Tran Thang Huong, Esteban Salido, Eileen Tur, Alexis Aguilera and Arch Ritter. In front: Ricardo Mansilla, Adrian Denis with Luis Casaco’s son Mauri and Luis Casaco, Guabano, February 1998

Class of 1998-1999 Front row. left to right: M. Bachra-Ahmed, Maritza Alvarez,  Maria Boiko, Kim Frederick, Tatiana Gonzalez, Marcos Diaz Diaz Back row:  Radamez Gonzalez, Vilma Cervantes, Zoe Medina, Katty Yeja, Mavis Morales, Eduardo Ramos, Heidi Portuondo, Ana Margarita Perez. Luis Gutierrez, Paul Valdes-Miranda

Posted in Blog, Featured | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Cuba’s Achievements under the Presidency of Fidel Castro: The Top Ten

NOTE: For additional articles on various aspects of Fidel Castro’s presidency, see:

Fidel Castro: The Cowardice of Autocracy

Fidel’s Phenomenal Economic Fiascoes: the Top Ten

Fidel’s No-Good Very Bad Day

The “FIDEL” Models Never Worked; Soviet and Venezuelan Subsidization Did

On September 17, I published and entry on this blog entitled “Fidel’s Phenomenal Economic Fiascoes: the Top Ten” but stated that I would also write a statement on Cuba’s greatest achievements under the leadership of President Fidel Castro. Here it is.

There certainly were economic policy blunders from 1959 to mid-2006 when Fidel Castro stepped aside in favor of his brother Raul. However, as is well known, Cuba made major achievements over these years in socio-economic terms. I will begin with a quick summary of Cuba’s socio-economic performance from 1959 to 1990 and 1990-2010, and then proceed to a listing of the Tip Ten Achievements

I. Socio-Economic Performance, 1959-1990

While the performance of the Cuban economy from 1959 to 1990 period was mixed, major improvements were made in terms of socio-economic well-being. The summary of changes in a few key socio-economic indicators in Table 1 illustrates the absolute and relative improvements achieved in human well-being. Life expectancy and infant and child mortality are summary indications of nutrition, income distribution and poverty and the quality of a nation’s health care system. Literacy and educational attainment are key factors in the investment in human capital and in citizen empowerment in a modern economy.

(click to enlarge)

Cuba’s rankings for these indicators in 1960 were relatively high in the Latin American context so that it was building on reasonably strong foundations.

However, despite improvements in the rest of Latin America, Cuba raised its relative ranking for all five of the socio-economic indicators vis-à-vis the rest of Latin America (excluding the English-speaking Caribbean.)  However Cuba’s economic ranking – in terms of the purchasing power of GDP per person – fell well down the list in 1990 placing Cuba at the 14th rank. As a result, Cuba placed at #10 in the UNDP Human Development Index.

II.        Socio-Economic Performance 1990-2010

Despite the economic difficulties of the 1990s, Cuba continued to improve its socio-economic performance in relative and absolute terms, at least as these are measured by the indicators in Table 2. Cuba continued to lead the Latin American countries in infant mortality and the education indicators. The improvements in education and health indicators and rankings occurred despite weakening of resource allocations and problems of maintaining quality. Cuba’s success in these areas was due largely to the quality and quantity of the educational systems built up in the previous1960-1990 period and institutional momentum.

(click to enlarge)

III.             Top Ten Achievements

Here is a listing of the Cuba’s socio-economic and economic achievements under the Presidency of Fidel Castro. They are not presented in order of importance. Some are the result of specific policy decisions or design or negotiations of Fidel Castro, though others are not.

#1        The 1961 Literacy Campaign

#2        Reorganization of the Health Sector

#3        Redesign of the Educational System

#4        Rapid Expansion of the Tourism Sector

#5       Provision of Medical Services to Latin America and Other Countries

#6        Survival in the Face of the 1989-1993 Economic Melt-Down

#7        Winning Economic Support from the Soviet Union, 1961-1990 and Venezuela, 2004-2010

#8        Establishment of the “Polo Cientifico” and the Development of the Bio-Technological Sector

#9        Dedication to their Jobs by Cuban Citizens during the Catastrophic Decline in Real Wages and Incomes after 1990

#10      Fruitful Collaboration with Foreign Enterprises


IV.             Achievements in Detail

#1        The 1961 Literacy Campaign

The 1961 literacy campaign was an inspired approach to improving educational levels among the relatively large proportion of the population that was illiterate in 1959. This was done at relatively low cost with strongly motivated volunteers. It quickly improved literacy rates immensely, though there is some disagreement as to the quality of the literacy that was achieved.

#2       Reorganization of the Health Sector

Cuba succeeded in reorganizing its medical system so as to provide universal access to health services, and managed to obtain excellent results relative to the amounts of resources that it was able to devote to the health sector.  As a result, Cuba’s health indicators improved quickly and remain among the very best in Latin America (See Tables 1 and 2)

#3        Redesign of the Educational System

Cuba’s reorganization and expansion of the educational system in the early 1960s also made education universally accessible and increased investment in people (human capital.) As a result, Cuba moved from 5th place in Latin America in terms of literacy and school enrolment in 1970 to 1st in 2007 – a fine achievement.

#4        Rapid Expansion of the Tourism Sector

As a result of the 1989-1994 economic melt-down, it was decided to earn foreign exchange by expanding the tourist sector. This required massive involved massive investment by both Cuba and foreign enterprises and the rapid shifting of resources to the sector. This was done and by 2008, Cuba was earning almost MN 2.4 billion from tourism.

#5        Provision of Medical Services to Latin America and Other Countries

By the latter 1990s, Cuba had a major surplus of medical personnel, with doctors and nurses posted in small tourist hotels and day care centers. However, this was converted into a major humanitarian asset, with Cuba’s provision of medical assistance to many countries in need, and expanding the Latin American Medical School outside Havana. The services of medical personnel are also exported to other countries – paid mainly by the Government of Venezuela. The foreign exchange earnings from medical (and educational) service exports amounted to MN 6.1 billion, almost half of Cuba’s foreign exchange earnings in 2008, as indicated in the accompanying chart.

#6        Survival in the Face of the 1989-1993 Economic Melt-Down

With the loss of Soviet subsidization and the near 40% decline in income per capita from 1989 to 1994, Cuba reorganized its economy, “depenalizing” the use of the US dollar, legalizing farmers’ markets, liberalizing self-employment and promoting new economic activities and exports etc. With no support from the international financial institutions of which it was not a member, thanks to the embargo with the United States, Cuba survived, at a cost borne almost directly, immediately and totally by its citizens.

#7       Winning Economic Support from the Soviet Union, 1961-1990 and Venezuela, 2004-2010

As noted in an earlier blog, The “FIDEL” Models Never Worked; Soviet and Venezuelan Subsidization Did posted on September 9, 2010 ,  Cuba received generous subsidization from the Soviet Union for a substantial period of time. An estimate of the amount of the subsidization is presented in the accompanying chart.  Presumably President Fidel Castro is responsible for negotiating this support. Similarly, Cuba has received substantial support from President Chavez of Venezuela through export and investment credits, low-cost oil imports and generous payments for Cuba’s exports of medical services.  How beneficial any of this assistance has been is debatable partly because it has been and is unsustainable and it has made possible the continuation of economic policies and institutions that have been counterproductive in the longer term. Fidel Castro can undoubtedly take the credit for these special relationships.

(click to enlarge)

#8        Establishment of the “Polo Cientifico” and the Development of the Bio-Technological Sector

To my knowledge, there has been no careful analysis of Cuba’s huge investment in the “Polo Cientifico” and the Bio-Technological sector. Indeed, I have not seen any analysis of the investment in the sector so I cannot judge accurately if it has been commercially viable so far or not.

However, Cuba is beginning to achieve major exports of pharmaceutical products amounting to MN 296.8 million pesos vis-à-vis MN 233.4 million for sugar in 2008.  These exports should continue to increase in future and the investment in the sector may be valuable. Moreover, Cuba’s investment in the “Polo Cientifico” has built a professional and institutional foundation for future success in pharmaceutical and other scientific areas.

#9        Dedication to their Jobs by Cuban Citizens despite the Decline in Real Incomes after 1990

I have always been impressed at the professionalism of many Cuban citizens that I have known over the years since 1990. In the face of huge declines in the purchasing power of their incomes, they continued to work seriously and with dedication in medicine, the Universities, the schools, the public service, or other employment. Many professionals and others in effect subsidized their state sector employers by earning other incomes that permitted them to survive in the unofficial economy. We have all heard of the doctors and engineers forced to provide taxi services on the side in order to make ends meet and continue to function in their professional capacities. The dedicated work of countless citizens over the difficult years of the Special Period, 1990-2010, is essentially what has brought about some recovery since the depths of the depression in 1993.

#10      Fruitful Collaboration in Nickel, Oil, Gas and Electric Power Generation with Sherritt International

Cuba opened up to foreign direct investment in joint venture arrangements with state firms. This has paid off handsomely, most notably with Sherritt International (nickel, cobalt, oil, gas, and electric power) and other enterprises as will be argued later in this Blog.

 

Posted in Blog, Featured | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments