• The objective of this Blog is to facilitate access to research resources and analyses from all relevant and useful sources, mainly on the economy of Cuba. It includes analyses and observations of the author, Arch Ritter, as well as hyper-links, abstracts, summaries, and commentaries relating to other research works from academic, governmental, media, non-governmental organizations and international institutions.
    Commentary, critique and discussion on any of the postings is most welcome.
    This Blog on The Cuban Economy is dedicated to Cuba's Generation "A". Although inspired by Yoani Sánchez' original blog "Generation Y" this is not dedicated to those with names starting with the letter "A". Instead, it draws from Douglas Coupland's novel Generation A which begins with a quotation from Kurt Vonnegut at a University Commencement:
    "... I hereby declare you Generation A, as much as the beginning of a series of astounding triumphs and failures as Adam and Eve were so long ago."


Marc Frank, Financial Times, April 5 2020

Cuba has long been proud of sending thousands of its doctors to work around the world as icons of socialist solidarity — and important sources of dollars.

But the coronavirus pandemic has given a communist government with a reputation as a medical power one of its toughest domestic challenges since Fidel Castro seized power six decades ago.

All but bankrupted by US economic sanctions, the Caribbean island nation is grappling with the threat posed to the oldest population in the Americas, where more than 20 per cent are aged over 60.

A severe outbreak of Covid-19 could also potentially threaten the domestic authority of a government whose comprehensive free healthcare system has been a pillar of the revolution’s success.

But the global outbreak has also created diplomatic opportunities, say analysts. The government has stepped up its overseas medical programme, sending doctors and nurses to help fight the virus in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pandemic began, as well as Italy, Andorra and elsewhere.

The strategy had long been a soft power play for the island, said Nicholas Watson, Latin America director at the consultancy Teneo, in a note. “[President Miguel] Díaz-Canel is not just looking to restore revenues that the program used to provide but to drive a wedge between the US and Europe over the medical assistance program.”

Cuba has so far reported close to 250 cases of Covid-19, mostly related to foreign visitors, and six deaths — an Italian and a Russian tourist and four Cubans. On March 20 it shut its borders, banned tourism and began implementing measures to curb the virus. This year’s May Day parade has been cancelled for only the third time since the 1959 revolution. Schools, bars and public transport between provinces have been shut down. Restaurants and stores remain open but with new rules on social distancing and hygiene, and all outside gatherings for festive purposes are banned.

Mr Díaz-Canel has appeared daily in the state-run media since the restrictions were rolled out, co-ordinating measures and urging citizens to take the threat seriously. “We have in our favour a public health system for all, a dedicated scientific community and an effective civil defence system, a party and a government that put Cubans at the centre of their attention,” he said in a nationwide address last month as he announced preliminary measures to contain the pandemic. “Serenity, discipline and collaboration, values ​​that every Cuban has incorporated, can prevent the spread of the virus,” he added.

Paul Hare, a former UK ambassador to Cuba who lectures at Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies, said the country’s tight social control over its population would also aid the effort. But, he added, “the strains on the Cuban health service will show in equipment and resources”.

While Cuba still boasts the best health statistics in the region, including number of doctors and nurses per capita, many health facilities are in disrepair and there are scattered pharmaceutical shortages.

Cuba initially did little Covid-19 testing but is now conducting more than 500 a day — a fivefold increase since last month — after a donation of kit from China. The government has not said how many ventilators are available. Community-based doctors and nurses, as well as medical students, have been going door to door asking about recent travel, contacts with visitors from abroad and possible symptoms.

Suspected cases are swiftly quarantined in state facilities. Confirmed cases have been hospitalised and their primary contacts quarantined.

The measures appear to have drawn near unanimous support.

“I approve of the measures, though the government should have taken them earlier, especially closing the border like other countries did,” said Anaida González, a retired nurse from central Camagüey province.

The government is, meanwhile, continuing to promote its narrative of global solidarity. As well as sending personnel to virus-stricken nations, state media have broadcast extensive footage of passengers being rescued from the Braemar, a cruise ship that docked in Havana after being refused entry by other Caribbean nations, and images of a Cuban-run hospital in Qatar and nurses marching into hospitals in seven other Caribbean island nations.

Cuba earned $6.3bn from medical services exports in 2018, its biggest source of foreign exchange and twice as much as tourism, its second biggest export earner. It needs the money more than ever given the tourism shutdown.

“Tourism generates $3bn annually in desperately needed hard currency and keeps most of the nascent private sector in business,” said William LeoGrande, a professor and Cuba expert at American University in Washington.

“A prolonged closure will reverberate across the entire economy, producing a recession not quite on the order of the 1990s Special Period [following the collapse of Cuban ally the Soviet Union], but a close second,” he warned.

“The photos of the Cuban medical brigade arriving in Italy are an icon of the revolution’s epic of international solidarity,” said Bert Hoffman, a Latin America expert at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies.

“But this narrative will only function as long as Cuba can control the coronavirus situation on the island itself.”

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Michael Weissenstein The Associated Press, Friday, April 3, 2020

HAVANA — Cuban officials say a shipment of coronavirus aid from Asia’s richest man, Jack Ma, has been blocked by the six-decade U.S. embargo on the island.

Carlos M. Pereira, Cuba’s ambassador to China, said on his blog this week that Ma’s foundation tried to send Cuba 100,000 facemasks and 10 COVID-19 diagnostic kits last month, along with other aid including ventilators and gloves.

Cuba was one of 24 countries in the region meant to receive the donations announced on March. 21 by the Jack Ma Foundation, which is sending similar aid to countries around the world, including the United States.

Cuban officials say the cargo carrier of Colombia-based Avianca Airlines declined to carry the aid to Cuba because its major shareholder is a U.S.-based company subject to the trade embargo on Cuba. The embargo has exceptions for food and medical aid but companies are often afraid to carry out related financing or transportation due to the risk of fines or prosecution under the embargo.

Human-rights groups have been calling for the U.S. to lift sanctions on Venezuela, Cuba and Iran during the coronavirus epidemic in order to permit the flow of more aid. The Trump administration has argued that only the countries’ government would benefit from the sanctions relief.

An Avianca spokeswoman referred a query to a spokeswoman for Ma’s company, Alibaba, who did not return an email seeking comment.

Cuba has closed all air and sea connections, with the exception of essential cargo and government flights, in an attempt to prevent the further introduction of coronavirus to the island.As of Friday morning, Cuba had 269 confirmed cases, 3,241 people in quarantine, 15 patients recovered from the infection and six who have died of it.

A town in western Cuba and a relatively well-off section of Havana have both been completely isolated to prevent the spread of the disease.

Cuba has free universal health care and a high ratio of medical workers, 95,000, for a population of 11 million but operates without much of the equipment and testing generally available in developed countries.

The blocking of the aid should be “an action inconceivable in a global crisis,” but “it doesn’t surprise us,” said Carlos Fernando de Cossio, Cuba’s head of U.S. affairs. “It’s the type of obstacle that Cuba confronts daily in order to take care of the country’s basic necessities.”


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Published in International Journal of International Agriculture and Food

Vegard Bye, Affiliated researcher, Chr. Michelsen Institute


In the Nordic countries, agricultural co-operatives were important when family farmers organised to get access to the quickly developing markets during industrialisation in the late 1800s and early 1900s. These co-operatives were organised both as credit, insurance, processing and marketing co-operatives. Spreading at first from Denmark to the rest of Northern Europe and later reaching the new settler continent in North America, farmers’ co-operatives soon became a key element in private farming in market economies. As many co-operatives became large companies in the capitalist economies, they either became ordinary share companies, or retained their farmer-owned co-operative status like in Norway. After Marxist-inspired revolutions in Russia, China, Eastern Europe and later Vietnam and Cuba, state organised and government-controlled co-operatives were set up in socialist countries. Many of the old forms of agricultural co-operatives in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe collapsed when the centrally planned economies were abolished in the early 1990s. However, new forms of food production and distribution cooperation have emerged both in the capitalist and former socialist countries. These co-operatives were organised both among producers and consumers in order to meet the common needs of direct access to foods. While it is assumed that family farming and food markets will have to play a more important role in the Cuban food economy in the future, it will be interesting to see if small farmers in collaboration with wholesale co-operatives will be allowed to develop short and sustainable supply food chains, which could be competitive against state socialist and multinational capitalist agriculture. Cuban agricultural policy must be able to evolve along two strategies: a volume agriculture that delivers high-quality, durable basic foods to the predominantly urban population, but also delivers local traditional food with craftsmanship to tourists and a growing middle class. Both strategies will be necessary in order to address a historic challenge of the Cuban socio-economic development: to produce sufficient food and make it available to consumers at affordable prices, thus also saving scarce currency today spent on food imports.

Continue Reading: Cuban_cooperatives_lessons_from_Norway

Durham Integrated Growers
Organic Agricultural Cooperative in Urban Cuba
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ASCE (ASSOCIATION FOR THE STUDY OF THE CUBAN ECONOMY), A Selection of Papers from the 2018 Annual Conference

The complete set of papers is here:  ASCE Conference Proceedings for 2018.

A complete set of all the papers from the annual ASCE conferences can be found here:  ASCE Conference Proceedings

Cuba: Los Retos Económicos del Gobierno de Miguel Díaz-Canel Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva PDF version
Cuba 2018: Entre la Continuidad y la Oportunidad Dagoberto Valdés Hernández PDF version
Cuban Peso Unification: Managed Rate and Monetary Analysis Luis R. Luis PDF version
La Agricultura en Cuba: Transformaciones, Resultados y Retos Armando Nova González PDF version
Principal Elements of Agricultural Reforms in Transition Economies: Implications For Cuba? Mario A. González-Corzo PDF version
Cuba’s Economic Liberalization and The Perils to Security and Legality Vidal Romero PDF version
Growth and Policy-Induced Distortions in The Cuban Economy: an Econometric Approach Ernesto Hernández-Catá PDF version
Comparing The Quality of Education in Pre- and Post-Revolutionary Cuba Using U.S. Labor Market Outcomes Luis Locay and John Devereux PDF version
The Global Economy and Cuba: Stasis and Hard Choices Larry Catá Backer PDF version
Five Keys to Presidential Change in Cuba Arturo López-Levy and Rolf Otto Niederstrasser PDF version
Cuba’s Political and Economic Arteriosclerosis – It Is Not Just The Castros Gary H. Maybarduk PDF version
Cuban Tourism Industry in The Eye of The Storm Emilio Morales PDF version
Experiencias de Cuentapropistas Ted A. Henken PDF version
Cuban Demography and Economic Consequences Humberto Barreto PDF version
“The Revenge of The Jealous Bureaucrat”: A Critical Analysis of Cuba’s New Rules For Cuentapropistas Ted A. Henken PDF version


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Humberto Barreto

ASCE Conference Proceedings, 2018

Complete Article: Cuban Demography


Cuba is facing a demographic storm that will stress its economy and society: its large baby boom generation is reaching retirement age and fertility is extremely low. While this is not an original observation (Hollerbach, 1980; Díaz-Briquets, 2015 and 2016), this paper uses single-year age-distribution data to show the seriousness of the situation. Unlike previous work (including that at the Cuban government’s Oficina Nacional de Estadística e Información (ONEI), www.one.cu), which focuses on total population change and other aggregates, this paper presents and analyzes the movement of the entire age-distribution over time. Thus, the data display methods adopted in this paper more dramatically show the demographic challenges facing Cuba.

The economic impact of an aging population is usually presented in terms of resources needed for health care and social services. The old age dependency ratio (the fraction of adults over 65 years old) conveys the idea that society must find a way to pay for care of the elderly. While important, this understates the effect of population aging and misses a mechanism through which it influences the economy. A much more serious challenge for an economy than taking care of the aged revolves around the attitudes and expectations of a society dominated by old people. The old are more pessimistic, conservative, and short-run oriented than the young.

While Keynes (1936, Ch 12:VII) highlighted animal spirits, “a spontaneous urge to action rather than inaction,” as a driver of fluctuations in a market economy, economists have little to say about the effect of expectations on long-run growth. Below are rudimentary thoughts on why a society dominated by the old might languish. The optimism of young people drives their energy and motivation to undertake a whole host of activities, including starting new businesses, trying new products, building new  homes, and moving to new cities. The old, unlike the young, see the end of life and this affects their outlook. For many, the past seems better than the future and they stand pat—personally, socially, and economically.

Risk taking falls as people age and this occurs in every aspect of life. We settle into patterns and stick to what works. In terms of the economy, old people are less likely to buy new products and invest aggressively. They are more concerned with maintaining and conserving what they have than in taking chances with their accumulated wealth.

Young people provide a dynamism to the economy that is fundamental to the success of innovation and technological change. General outlook, attitudes toward risk-taking, and time horizon considerations are all highly correlated and change together as we age. Older people become more negative, careful, and unenthusiastic. These attitudes drag the economy. They have always been there, but they have never been as noticeable and prominent as they are today because of a worldwide revolution in demography.

Countries around the world face aging population distributions that will hamper economic performance. Rich countries, like Japan, are better able to withstand these demographic headwinds. Those that can attract immigrants, like the United States and Germany, can bolster diminishing numbers of younger aged cohorts by welcoming young people from other countries, although this solution  is fraught with challenging political and social effects.

Cuba is in a particularly vulnerable position. Not only are the demographic forces exceptionally strong, but the economy is unusually weak. This paper will focus on the former, examining changes in the population age-distribution since the Revolution and forecasting future outcomes. Even if Cuba somehow manages to reform the economy and incorporate market-based incentives, its population age-distribution presents formidable challenges for an economic take-off. Again, this is not merely an issue of resources devoted to caring for the aged, but requires figuring out how to overcome the stagnation resulting from an economy dominated by old people. Without the energy, optimism, and risk-seeking of the young, the Cuban economy’s long-run future seems bleak.

The next section uses a macro-enabled Excel workbook, PopPyrCuba.xslm, to analyze Cuba’s recent demographic past and current situation. Age-specific fertility and death rates are then used to examine future prospects by iteration.

Continue Reading: Cuban Demography



Although the demographic challenge facing  Cuba and its low fertility have been known for years, the primary contribution of this paper lies in the presentation of the data through the macro-enabled Excel workbook, PopPyrCuba.xlsm, freely available at academic.depauw.edu/~hbarreto/working.  Cuba’s  single-year population pyramid (Figure 1) offers an eyecatching display and, by utilizing simulation to evolve the process, we gain insight into the future prospects facing Cuba. In addition, this paper argues that the implications of an aging population for the economy need to be studied in much more detail.

Discussing teaching and learning at the university level, Marshall (1920, p. 822) said, “The springs of imagination belong to early youth: it is the greatest of all faculties; and in its full development it makes the great soldier, the great artist, the student who extends the boundaries of science, and the great business man.” Indeed, imagination, creativity, and discovery drive technological change and modern economic growth relies on waves of imaginative young people creating wonderful new ways to heal, entertain, and connect us.

It is no coincidence that, during the explosion of development enjoyed by the rich countries of the world in the last two centuries, population and educational attainment have been rising. There has been a constant stream of more educated young people replacing and revitalizing society, sending income per person ever higher. The innovation and technological progress that drives the engine of economic growth is itself dependent on imagination—the springs of which belong to the young. Creativity is less likely to be found in the old because their experiences discourage them from trying all possible solutions to a problem.

Furthermore, parents are willing to undertake heroic and expensive efforts on behalf of their children. Parents deny themselves present consumption to provide a better future for their children. Economies without this kind of forward-looking orientation will invest less and grow more slowly.

Over the next decades, we will get data on how economies function in the presence of smaller cohorts of young people. Japan is a leader in this unfortunate race (see the Japan sheet in PopPyrCuba.xlsm) and the early returns are not promising. Their economy has not fared well after decades of superb post-WWII growth and no standard policy has managed to shake it out of its doldrums. Luckily, Japan is a rich, developed country. Cuba is not and it is facing the same demographic headwinds as Japan.

There do not seem to be any practical policy levers to pull. Mortality is essentially exogenous. We can safely expect small, continued improvement in health and longevity in countries all around the world. Fertility is the key variable here, but we do not understand it well (long-run prediction has been dismal), but there is no reason to expect a Cuban fertility boom. Many countries have tax credits, baby bonuses, parental leaves, and other supports, but these are small relative to the total cost of raising a child and even if they were effective, the Cuban government does not have the resources for ambitious programs to increase fertility. Immigration (the solution, however unwittingly, adopted by the United States) seems highly unlikely to help Cuba withstand the coming demographic storm. Any easing of barriers to movement on the part of Cuba or other countries (especially the United States), would seem to exacerbate   Cuba’s   demographic   challenge   since   more young adults are likely to leave Cuba than enter.

Viewing the number of children as a choice variable that responds to incentives leads to the realization that family planning is an outstanding example of an externality—a cost or benefit not taken into account by the decision-maker. The usual examples in economics involve pollution and education—the former a negative and the latter a positive externality. Standard economic theory says that because negative externalities result in too much of a good or service, we should tax them; but we subsidize positive externalities because they lead too few resources allocated in a given area. The optimal tax or subsidy would close the gap between private and social costs and benefits. This framework was developed by Pigou (1920). He supported taxing sellers of alcoholic drinks, zoning laws, and other government interventions as necessary measures to correct what would come to be known as market failures—misallocation of resources in the presence of a market imperfection such as monopoly or externalities. 1

Since parents do not capture the societal benefits of children,  which  are  a  function  of  the  population’s age-distribution, they do not include these benefits in deciding how many children to have. Countries with inverted population pyramids are in a situation in which too few children are being produced and there is no effective way to signal the need for an increased quantity to individual decision-makers. The externality, in which the full benefit (to society) of having a child cannot be captured by its parents, prevents the system from self-correcting.

Absent a sea change in attitudes toward children, a reduction in the economic penalties  women  must pay to have children, or a technological revolution in how we produce human beings, we should expect that relatively low fertility rates will persist in Cuba and many other countries. The adjustment as population pyramids invert worldwide will not be easy. Cuba, with a weak economy and an especially large elderly cohort, seems to be in a dire position as it becomes the island of the old.

Continue Reading: Cuban Demography

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En el mercado negro, donde se realizan las transacciones entre particulares, el dólar cotiza ahora en 1,13 CUC en lugar de 0,95

14YMEDIO / MARIO J. PENTÓN, La Habana/ Miami | Octubre 23, 2019

El simple anuncio por parte del Gobierno cubano de que el dólar y otras divisas tendrán curso legal en la Isla dentro de unos días ha provocado un desplome del valor del peso convertible (CUC).

En el mercado negro, donde se realizan las transacciones entre particulares, el valor del dólar se cotiza ahora en 1,13 CUC en lugar de 0,95, según la plataforma online Revolico y varias fuentes consultadas en La Habana. Últimamente, a raíz de una mayor demanda provocada por los aumentos salariales, los cambistas pedían entre 1 y 1,05 CUC por dólar.

En las casas de cambio oficiales, las Cadeca, la cotización no se ha movido de 0,87 dólar por 1 CUC porque se trata de un mercado controlado por el Estado, a diferencia del mercado paralelo. donde rige la ley de la oferta y de la demanda. El Estado castiga la divisa estadounidense con un impuesto del 10% y una comisión del 3%, Además, las Cadeca no venden dólares, solo los compran.

“La gente está buscando la seguridad del dólar porque no ve claros los pasos del Gobierno con la economía”, dice vía telefónica Mongui, un cambista que trabaja en las cercanías del hotel San Carlos, en Cienfuegos.

Mongui pide 1,13 CUC por dólar, pero cuando el cliente compra más de 1.000 dólares le hace una rebaja y se lo vende por 1,08. “Ya tengo mi clientela fija, gente que va de mula a Panamá, Cancún y otros lugares. Ahora hay mucho nerviosismo porque el Gobierno le quiere quitar el negocio a las mulas“, agrega.

María Luisa, de 69 años, recibe unos 100 dólares mensuales que le envía su hijo desde Florida y cree que el incremento del valor de esa moneda debió haberse producido hace mucho.

“¿En qué cabeza cabe que el CUC valga más que el dólar, la divisa más fuerte del mundo? Fidel quitó los dólares de la circulación y a cambio nos entregó papelitos. Ahora quieren quitarnos nuevamente los dólares y darnos un número en una tarjeta magnética. Ellos siempre se quedan con lo mejor”, protesta.

María Luisa ha pedido a su hijo que le envíe las remesas en dólares y que para ello deje de utilizar Western Union, que convierte automáticamente las remesas en CUC a un tasa de 0,95 por cada dólar. “Prefiero que me mande el dinero con gente que viene de Miami. Así me rinde más. Lo cambio por fuera de Cadeca. Para ellos puede que sea un peso, pero aquí son 25”, dice la jubilada, que cobra 310 pesos de pensión.

Los dólares no servirán para pagar en efectivo, sino con tarjetas de débito en las 77 tiendas estatales donde se comercializarán productos importados, sobre todo electrodomésticos, motos eléctricas o repuestos para automóviles.

El anuncio no ha sido bien recibido por los clientes que tenían una tarjeta asociada a cuentas en pesos convertibles o pesos cubanos. “Ahora tengo que sacarme otra tarjeta porque la que tengo es de mi cuenta en chavitos (CUC) no me sirve”, lamentaba este lunes Rogelio, un jubilado que recibe remesas de sus dos hijos emigrados.

Los bancos amanecieron este lunes con largas colas en La Habana de clientes interesados en contratar la nueva tarjeta magnética con saldo en divisas. Ahí estaba Rogelio, delante de la sucursal del Banco Metropolitano, en los bajos del Ministerio de Transporte, para comenzar el proceso de apertura de la cuenta y la solicitud de la tarjeta. “Lo bueno es que no se necesita saldo alguno para abrir la cuenta pero lo malo es que esto de pagar con tarjeta es muy complicado en las tiendas”, explica a 14ymedio.

Los constantes cuelgues del sistema de comunicación entre los mercados estatales y los bancos convierten la experiencia de pagar con tarjeta en un dolor de cabeza. Los terminales de pago, conocidos como POS, se quedan con frecuencia sin servicio y sin conexión y los empleados no pueden procesar el pago por esa vía.

“Cuando uno va a una tienda y va a pagar con tarjeta toda la cola te mira con mala cara, porque saben que te vas a demorar bastante, entre una prueba y otra para lograr comunicarse con el banco”, explica Yusimí, una habanera que este lunes también fue de las primeras en solicitar la nueva tarjeta bancaria.

“Hace unos pocos años se estaba hablando con mucha fuerza de que estaba al doblar de la esquina la unificación monetaria, pero ahora resulta que se agrega otra moneda. Esto no hay quien lo entienda”, se queja Nelson, contable en una empresa estatal donde ha tenido que lidiar con las distorsiones que provoca la dualidad financiera.

El economista Pavel Vidal, que fue funcionario del Banco Central de Cuba durante varios años, considera que el regreso del dólar a la economía nacional dará “algún alivio rápido a los crecientes desbalances financieros que se vienen acumulando desde 2015”.

En una columna publicada en OnCuba, Vidal considera que en el corto plazo se observarán “efectos positivos” por estas medidas, como una mayor liquidez en divisas en los bancos y “mayores opciones de compra en mercados formales”. Sin embargo, el ahora profesor de la Universidad Javeriana de Cali (Colombia) considera que el regreso del dólar implica la pérdida de la autonomía monetaria y retrasa la salida de la dualidad monetaria peso/CUC.

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“Autorizar operaciones con divisas en algunos mercados de consumo y en algunas industrias es abrir la caja de Pandora a una redolarización acelerada del resto de la economía”, sostiene el economista Pavel Vidal

Agencias, Madrid | 24/10/2019 9:20 am

Los cubanos pueden desde esta semana abrir cuentas en dólares en bancos locales para adquirir electrodomésticos, motos eléctricas, e incluso encargar equipos específicos, con cargo a su tarjeta de débito, informa la AFP.

El gobierno los comercializará y busca así recaudar divisas, tratando de sortear el embargo que le aplica Estados Unidos desde 1962. A continuación, algunas claves para entender las medidas:

¿En qué consisten?

Se habilitará a finales de mes una red de tiendas estatales para la venta en dólares y otras divisas extranjeras de productos de fuerte demanda de importación, como equipos eléctricos, electrodomésticos de alta gama, autopartes y ciclomotores.

El pago se realizará con tarjetas de débito que podrán recibir transferencias desde el exterior o de otras cuentas (en dólares y en otras divisas), libre de impuestos.

También podrán importar algunos bienes específicos a través de empresas estatales (bajo la misma modalidad de la cuenta bancaria), sin depender de la caja central estatal.

¿Qué se busca?

El gobierno busca captar divisas, en momentos en que el gobierno de Donald Trump arrecia el embargo, con medidas que afectan al turismo, las inversiones, el envío de remesas y la importación de combustible.

“El país necesita divisas para financiar” su “desarrollo económico y social” explicó el ministro de Economía, Alejandro Gil.

Cuba, gobernada por el Partido Comunista (PCC, único), busca evitar la fuga de cientos de millones de dólares, debido a las crecientes importaciones particulares.

Según la consultora privada Auge, solo en la Zona Libre de Colón (Panamá) los cubanos gastaron este año un promedio de “20 millones de dólares mensualmente”.

Con el dinero recaudado, el gobierno podría hacer frente a la falta de liquidez de su sistema económico, pagar a tiempo a sus proveedores y adquirir insumos que necesita el país.

¿Cómo se beneficia el gobierno y el ciudadano?

“Es previsible que en el corto plazo se observen efectos positivos”, pronostica el economista cubano Pavel Vidal, de la Universidad Javeriana de Cali.

Los bancos estatales podrán fortalecer su liquidez en dólares y otras monedas extranjeras, y el gobierno garantizar una oferta de productos deficitarios en la red minorista, sin tener que emplear las divisas que destina a gastos prioritarios.

Por su parte, los cubanos tendrán acceso a productos que hasta ahora sólo podían adquirir en mercados informales y a precios competitivos, mientras que el sector privado local (13 % de la economía), gastará menos en viajes para abastecerse de insumos.

¿Se dolarizará la economía?

Gil niega que la venta interna en divisas conduzca a la dolarización de Cuba, que ya apeló a la moneda estadounidense entre 1993 y 2004 para sortear la grave crisis económica de los años 90.

Según el ministro, las dos monedas nacionales: el peso cubano (CUP) y el peso convertible (CUC, equivalente a 24 pesos cubanos) siguen circulando, y el comercio en dólares se realizará solo por vía electrónica.

Pero los economistas destacan que el proceso de dolarización no depende del soporte empleado, sino de que el dólar suplante en algunas funciones a las monedas domésticas.

“Autorizar operaciones con divisas en algunos mercados de consumo y en algunas industrias es abrir la caja de Pandora a una redolarización acelerada del resto de la economía”, sostiene Vidal.

¿Y la unificación monetaria?

Gil subrayó que las medidas no detendrán el proceso de unificación de las dos monedas nacionales, previsto desde 2013, sino que pondrán al país en “mejores condiciones” para alcanzar esa meta, con una industria y un comercio minorista fortalecidos.

La doble moneda está acompañada de tasas preferenciales de cambio para el sector estatal, lo que distorsiona la economía.

Vidal advierte que, lejos de solucionar “el (actual) complejo y distorsionante sistema de múltiples tipos de cambio y dualidad monetaria”, las nuevas medidas ahora “llevan a la economía a operar no con dos, sino con tres monedas”.

“La redolarización anunciada cancela la unificación de las monedas”, considera.


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By Richard E. Feinberg

A presentation on November 26, Florida International University


Cuban Research Institute

School of International & Public Affairs

Florida International University

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Omar Everleny Pérez Villanuevanoviembre 19, 2019 


Corrían los primeros años de la década del 90 del siglo pasado y Cuba se adentraba en el llamado Período Especial en Tiempo de Paz. Para resistir y salir de la profunda crisis, las autoridades cubanas, especialmente Fidel Castro, anunciaban que se priorizarían las inversiones en determinados sectores estratégicos, entre ellos el turismo y la biotecnología.

Pero ambos requerían una importante inversión y demorarían en dar ingresos. Había entonces que buscar algún modo de captar divisas de manera más veloz. Y ahí apareció, en 1993, la despenalización de la tenencia de divisas extranjeras y la autorización para que la población adquiriera en tiendas en divisas los productos necesarios que ya estaban en falta en el circuito de ventas en moneda nacional (CUP). Se explicó que había mucha gente con divisas en su poder y que, simplemente, se estaba legalizando lo que ya era una realidad. Pero la motivación de recaudar divisas procedentes de las ayudas familiares tampoco se ocultaba.

Paralelamente, surgieron las Casas de Cambio, conocidas como CADECA, especialmente para que una parte de la población pudiese canjear las divisas que le habían enviado, adquirir CUP y así combatir el mercado negro en divisas. En aquel entonces, para hacer compras en las tiendas de divisas no era necesario canjearlas en CADECA por CUC. En las tiendas minoristas circulaba libremente el dólar, y más tarde hasta el euro en algunos polos turísticos. Durante esa época también se autorizó la posibilidad de abrir cuentas en divisas en bancos cubanos.

En Cuba había un referente de la existencia de tiendas en divisas, en las que solamente podían comprar los visitantes extranjeros: las tiendas en los hoteles conocidas como tiendas Caracol, aunque existían otras como Cubalse. También antes de los años 90 existieron billetes que permitían comprar en esas tiendas. Eran de diferentes colores: los había carmelitas, que recibían los estudiantes extranjeros en Cuba, o rojos para quienes estaban autorizados a estar en el extranjero por misiones o estudiando, entre otros. Se canjeaban en algunos bancos, sobre todo en el Banco Financiero Internacional (BFI): se entregaba la moneda extranjera y a uno le devolvían esos bonos.


Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva

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NOVEMBER 04, 2019 04:19 PM, UPDATED NOVEMBER 05, 2019 08:55 AM


Whether in New York, Mexico, or Russia, a face has become familiar in the most recent international trips Cuban leader Miguel Díaz-Canel has made: that of General Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Calleja.

Image result for General Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Calleja.

General Luis Alberto Rodríguez Lopez-Calleja, head of the Grupo de Administración Empresarial S.A. (GAESA)

Introduced as “an economic adviser,” the enigmatic military figure was third in line to greet Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting last week, just behind the vice president of the Council of Ministers, Ricardo Cabrisas, who renegotiated the debt to Russia, and foreign minister Bruno Rodríguez.

López-Calleja also sat close to Díaz-Canel in a meeting with Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador in mid-October this year and accompanied him to his debut at the United Nations in September 2018.

Although the official Cuban media has been ambivalent, showing López-Calleja in photos but without publicly naming him as part of the official delegations, his growing international profile suggests that Raúl Castro’s former son-in-law could be among the favorites to fill the newly created position of prime minister.

While leaving much in place, the Cuban Constitution approved in February established a division at the top of the government and the appointment of a prime minister. Accordingly, Díaz-Canel changed his title from President of the Council of State and Ministers to President of the Republic at the beginning of October. The Cuban leader has three months to propose a prime minister, who will be in charge of the day-to-day running of the country.

“The election or designation of the prime minister is a decision in which the executive committee of the Political Bureau of the [Cuban Communist Party], the nerve center of the Cuban one-party system, will have the lead,” said Arturo López-Levy, assistant professor of international relations and comparative politics at Holy Names University in Oakland. Key figures of the generation of historical leaders, such as the first and second secretary of the Party, Raúl Castro and José Ramón Machado Ventura, as well as Castro’s successor in the presidency, Díaz-Canel, must approve the candidate, the analyst said.

López-Levy is López-Calleja’s cousin but declined to comment on their family relationship.

Although the president of the republic, Díaz-Canel, remains as head of state and “supreme” chief of the armed forces as established in the new Constitution, the prime minister will have great power as head of government and chief decision-maker in the administration of the country.

The new prime minister must manage the economic situation of the country, “particularly in the areas of food and energy security,” have the support of the Party and the Armed Forces high command, as well as knowledge of international affairs, especially relations with the U.S., Russia, and China, López-Levy said.

López-Calleja, a Castro relative with proven experience in administration and leadership over the military, as well as contact with business people and foreign leaders, stands out as the ideal candidate for the position.

He is the true czar of the Cuban economy, being at the head of the Grupo de Administración Empresarial S.A. (GAESA), a conglomerate of military companies estimated to control at least half of the Cuban economy. GAESA manages critical areas such as the remittance business, most of the tourism industry, the Special Development Zone in the Port of Mariel as well as the main stores and supermarkets, gas stations, import and export companies, shipping and construction companies, warehouses and an airline.

In emails obtained by the Miami Herald, managers at Odebrecht — the Brazilian construction company involved in a corruption scheme throughout Latin America that was in charge of the modernization of the Port of Mariel in Cuba — wrote that, though López-Calleja divorced one of Raúl Castro’s daughters, Deborah, he had the ear of the Cuban leader and exercised “strong leadership in the decisions made by the Cuban government. All our businesses in Cuba passed through their hands.”

GAESA is currently under U.S. sanctions. Some analysts suggest that the fact that the Trump administration did not include López-Calleja among Castro’s relatives hit with recent visa sanctions might indicate that the U.S. believes the general could play a key role during a transition on the island.

But internal movements in Cuba are difficult to predict, and López-Calleja is not the only one with prospects of becoming prime minister.

Foreign Minister Rodríguez has increased his international profile in recent years, capitalizing on his frequent harsh criticism of the U.S. government while negotiating a new diplomatic agreement with the European Union. He also served in the military and has spent years cultivating relations in the Party as a member of its Central Committee, to the point that he is seen as someone who represents the most conservative voice of the Party in the foreign ministry.

While Rodríguez and Tapia are currently members of parliament, López-Calleja must become a deputy in order to be nominated as prime minister, a requirement written in the new Constitution. Since the last parliamentary elections in March 2018, the Assembly has dropped 22 deputies and admitted 16 new ones who were not elected, through a mechanism that is not public.

The Party could also choose one of its own, for example, economist Jorge Luis Tapia, appointed a vice president of the Council of Ministers in September, after a decade leading the Party, first in the province of Ciego de Ávila and then in Camagüey.

Rodríguez, however, lacks experience in administration, and Tapia lacks international contacts.

Castro and the military could also keep López-Calleja as an influential figure who acts behind the scenes, especially for his valuable contacts with international business people.

“While he is a logical candidate given his success at managing GAESA, his business expertise may be more valuable there than as prime minister,” said William LeoGrande, a professor of government at American University and a specialist in U.S. relations with Cuba.

But the advance age of Castro, 88, and Machado, 89, leads López-Levy to think that whoever occupies the prime minister position will have real power during an imminent transition.

“In the transitions of post-revolutionary regimes, the titles acquire real power,” he said. In those circumstances, “people prefer to formalize their position.”

Arturo López-(Cajella)-Levy

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