• 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."


Imperial hubris leads the US to build towers doomed to fall.

Aaron Schneider, associate professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Relations, University of Denver.

Arturo Lopez-Levy, Assistant Professor of International Relations and Politics at Holy Names University

El Jazeera, 12 Sep 2021

Original Article: Stop Playing Jenga

US President Joe Biden meets his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani at the White House in Washington, DC on June 25, 2021 [File: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

“A terrible time for our country … I don’t know what you call it – a military defeat or a psychological defeat,” said former US President Donald Trump in an August 17 interview on Fox TV. He was referring to the decision of his successor, President Joe Biden, to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan.

Some hours earlier it emerged that the Republican National Committee had removed a webpage from 2020 in which it praised Trump for the “historic peace agreement with the Taliban”.

Although the Republicans are struggling to cover up their support for pulling out of Afghanistan amid the fallout of the messy US departure, they, like the Democrats, have known full well that it was inevitable and had to be done. Media reports show many US government officials knew from early on the war was going wrong and was unwinnable – if the purpose was a political solution without the Taliban.

As the world watches the Taliban re-establish the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan 20 years after it was toppled by a US-led invasion, one has to ask how is it that Washington harvested such colossal failure? How is it that 40 years after the Vietnam War, it repeated the same mistakes – having no clear goals or exit strategy? After so many US officials expressed doubts about the war, why was there so little courage to plan and execute properly?

Many see international politics as a game, and in this case, the game is clear – Jenga. In Jenga, players remove pieces from a tower and set them on top until the tower falls. Nobody wins at Jenga; one person loses.  Three administrations in a row knew the tower would fall and nobody would win. Still, they pretended in front of the American public that victory was possible and delayed losing by pumping trillions of dollars and sacrificing thousands of civilian and military lives.

They did not prepare for the moment the tower would fall or take steps to help successors manage the eventual collapse. The failure became bigger in the context of promises about nation-building, rule of law, women’s rights and education, cultural change, and “dialogue” with the Taliban. In the end, Afghanistan lost more than 100,000 lives (at least this is what is acknowledged), the US – 2,400.

Our history is littered with similarly doomed foreign policy fiascos in which a short-term bias in favour of coercion preempted the long-term benefits of a consistent policy of engagement and diplomacy.

Afghanistan and Iraq are the most recent examples and Vietnam is a classic one, but there are also the military occupations of Haiti (1915-34), the Dominican Republic (1916-24), Cuba (1906-09), and Nicaragua (1912-33). None of these occupations produced democracy, development, or peace. They all reflect the imperial hubris of the American belief in total victories, which fails to accept compromise or partial achievements (for instance, killing Osama bin Laden should have been enough).

The low politics of buck passing – “the tower will fall but not on my watch” mentality – ignores those like Congresswoman Barbara Lee who called for more time and reflection to take appropriate responses to the 9/11 attacks. Still, we play the game over and over, knowing full well that nobody can win.

It is worth asking what other Jenga predicaments bedevil US foreign policy? What are the other strategies everyone knows will fail but no president wants to take the blame for allowing the tower to tumble?

One place to begin is the raft of questionable unilateral US sanctions that cause tremendous pain and disarray but have never resulted in the intended outcome of regime change. Instead, sanctions cause suffering among large populations and are often counterproductive, providing a nationalist boost to otherwise tottering regimes.

Under the current conditions of the pandemic, sanctions are not only unproductive; they are cruel and they further drain American power. Worse, when unilateral comprehensive embargoes do not work, the typical response in Washington is not to question their rationale, but to expand them with secondary sanctions to third countries.

The most egregious example is the sanctions against Cuba. Most reasonable observers agree the embargo is ineffective, and almost every country in the world besides the US and Israel votes annually at the United Nations to condemn them. Still, no president wants to be the one responsible for reversing the embargo with extraterritorial secondary sanctions, now in place for 60 years.

One could even argue that it helps the Cuban government to rally its population and brings Washington into conflict with almost every major ally around the world. Rather than peeling away from Beijing and Moscow, it pushes Havana towards them. As a result, the US continues its embargo, causes unnecessary suffering to the Cuban people, fails to produce change, and turns the US (not Cuba) into an international pariah in conflict with its own allies.

There is only one way to win at political Jenga – don’t play. Imperial hubris leads us to build towers doomed to fall. Each administration piles on new resources and deaths, hoping to delay the inevitable at least until they leave office. It is time to recognise an unwinnable game as soon as possible – the US should not be an imperial power, should not occupy other countries, and should have the courage to end evidently unsuccessful strategies.

Diplomacy, trade and engagement, multilateralism, and peace, not war or sanctions, should be our default foreign policy tools.

Posted in Blog | Tagged | Leave a comment


THE HILL,  09/03/21

Original Article.

By Rafael Bernal

More Americans favor engaging Cuba diplomatically than any other approach to the island, according to a new poll by the online political platform Moxy.

The survey found that 41 percent of respondents favored diplomatic engagement, followed by 35 percent saying it should be easier for Cubans to migrate to the United States, 34 percent wanting to sanction Cuban human rights abuses in international courts, and 33 percent favoring ratcheting up sanctions on the communist regime.

“We presented 10 different policy measures, and the respondents can choose as many as they want,” said Cesar Melgoza, CEO of Moxy.

“The one that was chosen most often, overall as well as by Republicans and Democrats, was diplomacy,” added Melgoza.

The polling results come as the Biden administration is expanding its diplomatic footprint in Cuba. The State Department last month allowed diplomats on the island to be accompanied by adult relatives, but the White House has stopped short of the policy of rapprochement from the Obama era.

Meanwhile, Cuba remains in the political spotlight, particularly in Florida after protests on the island renewed interest in supporting the Cuban opposition among some U.S. groups.

But according to Moxy’s poll, Americans overall don’t see Cuba as a top issue.

On a scale of 1 to 5, Cuba received a score of 2.74 as a policy that affects how respondents vote.  Among Democrats, the average score was 3.01 and among Republicans it was 2.67.  Cuban-American voters were most likely to have their vote swayed by Cuba policy, with an average score of 3.75.

Former Rep. Joe García (D), a South Florida political veteran, said the poll results indicate a need for President Biden to engage more in Cuba policy.  “I’ll go so far as to say that if he does not, he will have missed a premium opportunity to endear himself to the Cuban people in South Florida, perhaps to impact the next election,” said García.

“I don’t know what his advisors are thinking. From my point of view, it’s the perfect opportunity, and it’s harmonic with democracy. It’s harmonic with human rights, it’s harmonic with the best political strategy. So there’s no reason not to pay more attention,” he added.

According to the poll, 24 percent of respondents think Biden proactively represents the interests of the Cuban people.  That puts the president behind Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), at 29 percent. But Biden is ahead of Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.), at 17 percent, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), with 15 percent.

Although Republican politicians dominate the list of individuals who represent the interests of the Cuban people, almost 37 percent of voters said Democrats best represent Cuban Americans, and nearly 27 percent of voters said Republicans do.

García interpreted the poll results as an invitation for Biden to engage Cuba with a “carrot and stick” approach.

“And frankly, invite those Republicans who are most outspoken on the issue into the dialogue, because otherwise they’ll criticize probably anything he proposes anyway. But bring them in into it, make them part of the team, come up with a plan. And more importantly, do something about it,” he added.

The poll was conducted online Aug. 2-9, with 1,014 completed responses and an oversampling of Cuban-origin voters.

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


Cuba’s Covid 19 Dashboard Website

The ultimate source for information on Covid 19 in Cuba

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Pavel Vidal Alejandro

Original Article

Para alcanzar un resultado significativo y sostenible se necesita avanzar mucho más y ofrecer claridad y confianza al campesino de que la política para el sector agrícola se va a distanciar, definitivamente, de los errores del pasado.

September 05, 2021

Durante los últimos dos años hemos escuchado hablar al gobierno cubano de descentralización de los municipios y del reforzamiento de la autonomía de las autoridades locales para definir estrategias de desarrollo, manejar recursos y atraer inversión extranjera, entre otros temas. Donde más se ha avanzado en esta dirección ha sido en la agricultura.

El gobierno ha venido publicitando su nueva estrategia para la comercialización de los productos agropecuarios y para la formación de los precios de los alimentos. Las autoridades de los ministerios de Agricultura, de Finanzas y de Economía han venido destacando que con la nueva política agropecuaria se eliminó el monopolio de Acopio, la empresa estatal dedicada a la comercialización mayorista. La directora de comercialización del Ministerio de Agricultura refería en el programa televisivo Mesa Redonda el 2 de agosto de 2021: “No hay monopolio. Todos son una familia de comercializadores”.

Diversos analistas y medios de prensa se hicieron eco de la noticia sobre la eliminación de los topes de precio en la agricultura cubana desde el 30 de julio. Sin embargo, se debe tener cuidado sobre la interpretación y alcance de esta noticia, pues no necesariamente indica un cambio definitivo en la política de precios en el sector.

Acopio y la “familia de comercializadores”

Cuando se revisan las normas publicadas en la Gaceta 49 del 4 de mayo de 2021, se aprecia que, en efecto, las nuevas normas permiten una mayor participación de diferentes actores no estatales en la comercialización agrícola. Sin embargo, en el Artículo 18 del Decreto 35 del Consejo de Ministros, se especifica que

  • “los productores pueden vender a otras formas de comercialización existentes en el país, los productos que por problemas logísticos y financieros de las entidades acopiadoras y comercializadoras no puedan ser comprados…”
  • “Los productos contratados que no se adquieran por las entidades acopiadoras y comercializadoras por causas imputables a estas, se pueden vender por las cooperativas o productores […] a otras formas de comercialización existentes en el país.”

Es decir, se mantiene Acopio con el monopolio para la primera opción de compra. Los campesinos y cooperativas agropecuarias solo pueden vender en los mercados lo que no contrata Acopio, o lo que contrata y luego no puede comprar por alguna razón.

Adicionalmente, en esta lógica de “economía de municipio” se define en el mismo Decreto que “los consejos provinciales y los consejos de la Administración Municipal ejercen la supervisión y control del funcionamiento del sistema de comercialización agropecuaria”.Y se encuentran entre las funciones de los consejos provinciales:

  • Definir los destinos a contratar y los precios de los productos agropecuarios que circulan entre sus municipios a partir de la propuesta de sus comités de contratación.
  • Monitorear los precios establecidos por los consejos de la administración municipal.
  • Controlar el funcionamiento de los mercados agropecuarios.

Aparece así esta figura en la economía de municipio nombrada “comité de contratación de las producciones agropecuarias”. Estos están presididos por el gobernador de la provincia y el intendente del municipio. Lo interesante de estos comités es que incluyen entre de sus integrantes, además de autoridades locales y las empresas estatales en la agricultura, a cooperativas y campesinos individuales.

Además de hacer propuestas para la contratación, esos comités municipales tienen como una función primordial “concertar para su territorio los precios de acopio mayoristas y minoristas y los precios por acuerdo aplicables a los productos agropecuarios que no tengan precios centralizados, de conformidad con los márgenes comerciales establecidos…”

A partir de esta norma, las autoridades cubanas vienen señalando que ya hay muy pocos precios topados centralmente, que estamos en un escenario de “precios concertados”. Ciertamente, es muy importante tomar en cuenta a los productores en la definición de estos precios, pero las normas publicadas no especifican cómo van a funcionar estos comités de contratación. No parece que vayan a operar bajo un sistema de votación. No conocemos qué poder de negociación real tendrán las cooperativas y campesinos en estos comités.

El éxito que espera el gobierno de la “economía de municipio” tiene como explicación que en la base se tiene mejor información sobre los problemas, los desequilibrios y las necesidades locales. El argumento es que esto permitirá tomar mejores decisiones que cuando se tomaban centralmente en los ministerios en La Habana. Ello puede tener algo de razón, pero también es cierto que la sustitución de los mecanismos de mercado para la formación de precios es una tarea compleja aun a nivel municipal, sobre todo si los productores no participan en una negociación real en igualdad de condiciones con las autoridades locales.

La capacidad profesional en todos los municipios para asumir todas estas nuevas tareas es otra duda legítima. También pueden aparecer dudas sobre la efectividad de tener precios agrícolas muy diferentes entre los municipios. Las diferencias injustificadas de precios por regiones, y la dificultad para entender a cabalidad en un comité todas las dinámicas e interrelaciones detrás de los mercados agrícolas, pueden terminar enviando señales equivocadas a los productores y generando nuevas distorsiones en la agricultura cubana.

Dado que la norma deja un amplio grado de discrecionalidad para el funcionamiento de los comités de contratación, lo más probable es que aparezcan algunas buenas experiencias y otras muy malas. Tal vez lo más positivo de esta municipalización sea permitir recoger información sobre las mejores prácticas para luego poder reproducirlas. Seguramente las mejores experiencias estarán en los comités que concerten precios más cercanos a los valores que reflejan los mercados, toda vez que emitirán las señales que se requieren para acomodar las producciones y la demanda de cada uno de los alimentos a la realidad municipal y nacional.

Topes de precio e intermediarios

Otra confusión que se genera sobre la nueva política de comercialización agrícola se origina en la Resolución 320 de 2021 del Ministerio de Finanzas y Precios del 30 de julio de este año. En esta norma, efectivamente, se eliminaron los referentes de precios máximos agropecuarios fijados en las resoluciones 18 y 84 de inicios de año.

Pero las resoluciones 18 y 84, simplemente, habían fijado un límite a los precios agropecuarios para evitar un aumento desmedido como consecuencia de la reforma monetaria y de la devaluación de la tasa de cambio oficial del peso cubano. Y como las estimaciones oficiales sobre el impacto inflacionario de la devaluación han quedado muy por debajo de la inflación de mercado, estos límites quedaron obsoletos, resultaban contraproducentes y se eliminaron. Sirva también este ejemplo reciente para mostrar lo difícil que resulta entender los múltiples factores que mueven los precios en una economía.

La Resolución 320 elimina estos límites máximos en los precios, pero no necesariamente debe interpretarse como un cambio en la política de precios. Los comités de contratación están vigentes, así como la autoridad de los gobiernos locales para definir los precios de los productos agropecuarios que circulan entre sus municipios.

La ministra de Finanzas lo dejó bien claro en el programa televisivo Mesa Redonda el pasado 2 de agosto: “Se elimina el tope, pero sin detrimento de la facultad de autoridades provinciales y municipales para establecer precios minoristas de venta a la población que tomen en cuenta las necesidades y realidades territoriales. Ratificamos que esas facultades se mantienen, como también se mantiene la responsabilidad de las autoridades locales en el enfrentamiento a precios especulativos y abusivos” (Mesa Redonda, 2 de agosto de 2021).

Otro asunto en el que insisten las nuevas normas para la comercialización agrícola es en la eliminación de intermediarios. Se busca que sean los mismos productores quienes se ocupen de comercializar sus producciones en los mercados, con vistas a abaratar los precios finales que llegan al consumidor. La directora de comercialización del Ministerio de Agricultura lo denominó “autogestión” (Mesa Redonda, 2 de agosto de 2021).

Si bien ello puede ser factible y beneficioso para los productores a escala local, parece estarse negando, una vez más, el papel que cumplen los comercializadores especializados en la cadena de valor de cualquier mercado de mayor escala.

El artículo 20 del referido decreto limita la comercialización mayorista de productos agropecuarios a empresas estatales, cooperativas agropecuarias, poseedores de tierras y vendedores mayoristas de productos agropecuarios.

En este último caso, se trata de un vendedor mayorista que tendría que operar bajo la figura de trabajador por cuenta propia. Sin embargo, la norma no permite la presencia de pymes privadas, cooperativas no agropecuarias especializadas en comercialización, cooperativas de segundo grado, o empresas mixtas o extranjeras para estos fines. En el artículo 30 sobre la comercialización minorista se relacionan los mismos actores, solo añadiendo como novedad a las cooperativas no agropecuarias creadas para esos propósitos.

Ya conocemos que vienen en camino otras normas para reforzar el papel de la empresa estatal socialista en la agricultura. Pero la historia y datos irrefutables nos sugieren que nada nuevo y provechoso podemos esperar de ellas. El ministro de la Agricultura anunció en el programa televisivo Mesa Redonda del 18 de agosto: “ya está la base para el diseño del sistema empresarial estatal agroindustrial municipal, que ya está en fase de aprobación del Comité Ejecutivo y después irá a su implementación”.

El sector de la agricultura, ganadería y silvicultura cubano apenas presentó un crecimiento promedio anual de 0,5% durante la década pasada. La sustitución de importaciones, la soberanía alimentaria y el vaso de leche para cada cubano quedaron como promesas incumplidas de los primeros Lineamientos.

La llamada “actualización” acumuló innumerables transformaciones económicas, organizativas y cambios en las normas jurídicas, pero sin querer introducir verdaderas lógicas e incentivos de economía de mercado en el sector agropecuario.

Vietnam, que sí se ha movido en esta dirección con determinación y ha transformado radicalmente su modelo económico, logró un crecimiento sostenido promedio anual del sector agropecuario de 3,9% durante los años 90 y de 3,8% en los 2000. Con estos crecimientos logró incrementar su capacidad de producción de alimentos en 50% durante la primera década y la duplicó al cabo de veinte años.

Con la economía de municipio estamos nuevamente en el terreno de lo experimental, a pesar de todos los fracasos que el gobierno cubano ha acumulado durante tres décadas cuando ha tratado de relajar a medias o ha intentado solo “actualizar” el modelo de command economy, también llamado socialismo burocrático, entre otras posibles denominaciones.

Nada asegura que el cambio de la escala territorial (a los municipios) vaya a garantizar el éxito de los mecanismos administrativos en la contratación y en la formación de precios que no funcionaron a nivel nacional.  Ya es conocida la resistencia del gobierno cubano a considerar reformas plenas de mercado. Cuando existe una variante intermedia, esta siempre ha sido la preferencia oficial.

En resumen, sí se aprecia en las normas publicadas este año una flexibilización de los mecanismos de comercialización, pero sin que se lleguen a instrumentar verdaderos incentivos y señales de mercado para el sector agropecuario. Es posible que se vean algunos resultados positivos puntuales. Pero para alcanzar un resultado significativo y sostenible se necesita avanzar mucho más y ofrecer claridad y confianza al campesino de que la política para el sector agrícola se va a distanciar, definitivamente, de los errores del pasado.

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


Leading radicals are raising their voices against the demand for uncritical backing for the government

Ruaridh Nicoll

The GUARDIAN, Sun 25 Jul 2021

Original Article: CUBAN LEFTISTS

Luis Emilio Aybar is a voice from the left, which in Cuba means pretty far left. By any measure, he should be a stalwart defender of the island’s communist regime. After widespread public protests that two weeks ago roiled the nation, the 34-year-old published an article in the magazine La Tizza, which bills itself as “a space to think about socialism”.

After the prerequisite denunciation of the US, he wrote: “What happened on 11 July is also because we communists and revolutionaries do not fight with sufficient force and efficiency the harmful practices of the state.

“We defend unity in a way that actually harms it … We uncritically follow our leaders instead of rectifying their path. We agree to be disciplined, when what we have to do is think and act with our own heads.” In authoritarian Cuba, that sounded a lot like heresy.

Cuba has always split international opinion. Its detractors are perhaps best represented by the US senator Marco Rubio, who called the island “the only country in the world where Cubans can’t succeed”.

In turn, its supporters brook little criticism. Helen Yaffe, an author and academic from Glasgow University, recently arrived on the island, swiftly joining a government rally called by the government. Afterwards she declared on Novara Media: “No one should underestimate the resilience of the Cuban revolution.”

Within Cuba, the regime has long demanded such support, calling detractors gusanos, or worms. Yet the sight of thousands of Cubans taking to the streets to complain about a lack of food, medicines and electricity seems to have caused cracks to appear.

Silvio Rodríguez is Cuba’s best-known singer-songwriter, a 74-year-old international superstar widely recognised as living his socialist values. In non-pandemic times, he stages monthly free concerts in the poorer barrios of Havana.

Last week, however, he met the dissident playwright Yunior Garcia, who had been arrested during the protests. They discussed the unrest and the government’s heavy-handed response.

Shortly afterwards, Rodríguez called for the release of all those who had not resorted to violence. “There must be less prejudice,” he said. “[There must be] more desire to solve the mountain of pending economic and political issues.”

Carlos Fernández de Cossío has blamed the US trade embargo for the demonstrations. Photograph: Ramón Espinosa/AP

Criticism such as this has put the government on the defensive. It says the island has been subject to a wave of disinformation from the US.

Carlos Fernández de Cossío is Cuba’s point-man on the US, and second only to the foreign minister in importance at the ministry of foreign affairs. He insisted that claims that protesters had “disappeared” into jails and interrogation centres were just not true. “There are people who have been detained and there are people that have been arrested, those that have violated the law,” he said, although he would not give numbers. Independent media claim up to 650 people were detained, although many have now been released.

Asked what he thought had brought Cubans on to the streets, De Cossío replied: “Well, it wasn’t capitalism.”

The protesters had cried “libertad”, freedom, and “patria y vida”, homeland and life, the title of an anti-government song. The shortages they face are the result of Cuba running out of foreign currency, a situation hastened by the pandemic devastating an economy reliant on tourism.

De Cossío blamed the 60-year-old US trade embargo, tightened to strangulation by Donald Trump and kept in place by Joe Biden. He said there had actually been more conversations with Washington during Trump’s presidency than Biden’s. “There’s no dialogue at this moment,” he said.

Yet in his essay for La Tizza, Aybar strayed surprisingly close to another analysis, summarised by the Financial Times when it called Cuba a last “lonely outpost of Marxist central planning”.

“During 2020, half of the country’s investments were allocated to hotel construction at a time when there was a drastic decrease in international tourism and an acute shortage of investment in agriculture,” he wrote. He said 11 July needed to be a watershed. “A failure to pressure the government from the left means that the right will take the initiative”, meaning “more market, more private property, less education and public health.”

Only time will reveal whether internal reform will satisfy the population. Another increasingly robust critic from within, Cuba’s former ambassador to the EU, Carlos Alzugaray, believes it will have to. He has just published an article saying it is “essential” that the government “not make the mistake of blaming only external factors”.

He was watching the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics on television as he pointed out that, despite the efforts of critics in the US, regimes such as China, Vietnam and Cuba have proved durable, and “very difficult to overthrow”. It is his view that Cuba should follow China and Vietnam towards “a market economy with socialist orientation”.

Before he could get into that – or the government’s potential reaction to the criticism from within – the pride in Cuba’s sovereignty that has always been a far greater and more unifying force than communism on the island revealed itself.

The 69 athletes Cuba has sent to the Olympics appeared in the famous parade. Alzugaray faltered, his voice suddenly breaking with emotion.

Carlos Alzugaray

Posted in Blog | Tagged , | Leave a comment


The Economist, Aug 14th, 2021

All the while it is still cracking down on protesters

Original Article: CUBA: A SMALL STEP

ON AUGUST 6TH the Cuban council of state approved a long-awaited law authorising the creation of small and medium-sized enterprises. The announcement came less than a month after thousands of Cubans took to the streets calling for freedom and an end to the Communist dictatorship. After a brutal crackdown, around 380 protesters are now in prison awaiting trial on charges such as “delinquency”.

The announcement could be designed partly to distract attention from the state’s suppression of dissent. On an island with the fourth-highest official covid-19 infection rate in the world it will be tricky for people to forget that there was enough petrol to power motorcycles, trucks and buses filled with boinas negras (a special-forces unit of the Cuban military) who were sent out to rough up the protesters in July, but not enough for ambulances or incinerators to cremate the dead.

Nonetheless, it is a welcome reform. It is part of what the government calls the “ perfeccionamiento”, or perfection, of socialism. Everyone else recognises it as allowing a bit of free enterprise to compensate for socialism’s failures. In February Cuba’s council of ministers increased the number of trades open to cuentapropistas, or self-employed people. Some 124 sectors are reserved for the state, but everything else is open to entrepreneurs. Even with the recent changes, the legal status of cuentapropistas is ill-defined. Applying for the necessary permits is a slog that can take ages. The rules are designed to keep cuentapropistas small (and therefore no threat to state-owned firms). They can only hire relatives or other self-employed subcontractors. They cannot incorporate, so there is no legal difference between their personal capital and their business capital—if the business goes bust, so do they.

Despite these shackles, enterprising Cubans have flocked to start their own micro-businesses. Since 2010 the share of the workforce who are self-employed has soared from 3% to 13%, or more than 600,000 people. Just over a third are women; a third are under 30. They are concentrated in the largest cities, and are most likely to work as taxi-drivers or run restaurants and food kiosks.

The new law, which still needs to be published in Cuba’s official gazette, is expected to allow small and even medium-sized private businesses to incorporate. This could mean that private firms will be allowed to hire staff (rather than just nephews or independent contractors). It could also mean that multiple investors will be able to put money into a private firm with limited liability. That would make Cuba much more attractive to foreign investors. Incorporation would also make paying taxes simpler and borrowing less daunting. But not all industries will be treated equally. Architects, journalists, lawyers, vets, translators and interpreters, among others, are not allowed to work in the private sector, or to incorporate.

Cuba’s state firms are pampered, inefficient and the main reason why the island is so short of basic goods. This, in turn, is one reason why Cubans have been protesting. Last year GDP shrank by 11%. New official statistics show that imports and exports of goods have been declining since 2018, well before the pandemic scuppered tourism and starved Cuba of hard currency. Hoping to boost morale, the government has distributed some food, donated from Mexico and elsewhere, in the areas where the largest protests occurred.

Oniel Díaz of Auge, a consultancy, has called for reforms to unleash the private sector since 2017. He is excited by the new law, but cautious too. Opening a business is likely to continue to be much slower than elsewhere in the world. “At the end of the day, this is still Cuba.”■

Some Small Enterprises:

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


Miriam Leiva, independent journalist.

Cuba Study Group, August 16, 2021

Original Article:  Cuban Agriculture: Strategic But Inert

One of the many existing theories about the origin of the name “Cuba” refers to a word from the natives of the island that meant “cultivated land.” Although we are not sure that this is correct, we do know that the immense possibilities for agriculture, together with an excellent climate and a good geographical position, marked the value of a Caribbean island that otherwise lacked great natural resources.

Throughout Cuban history, the development of agriculture retained a position of special interest. Since the colonial era, the island became the largest producer of sugar cane in the world, a trend that increased during a large part of the republican years.

Perhaps because of this, anyone would have thought that after the supposed return of the land to its “owners,” the nascent revolution would focus on the development of one of the island’s main riches. But was it so?

Today, 529 years after Cuba was discovered, and after 61 years of land mismanagement, Cuban agriculture faces one of its worst crises marked by a chronic inability to produce food. It is in this context that the government has announced the application of 63 measures with the aim of rescuing an agricultural system that, although recognized as strategic, lies inert before our eyes. Seven groups of stakeholders, among which are agricultural executives, experts, academics, and prominent producers, were consulted in their formulation.

The measures have been described by the current minister of agriculture, Ydael Pérez, as “(…) unprecedented in Cuban agriculture (…)”. They include initiatives such as an agricultural development bank, insurance expansion, the repeal of some of the old “obstacles,” and the legalization of trade of meat and bovine milk. Additionally, some restructuring carried out in the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG) and in the cooperatives stand out, as well as a certain level of autonomy placed in the hands of state companies, provincial governments, and their local executives. Finally, the creation of an Innovation Committee and other new institutions are also notable and aim to achieve the long-awaited increase in production that Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel spoke about.

These measures could be considered the prelude to “changing the way of thinking,” as the head of agriculture pointed out. However, and despite the high expectations generated by this supposed call for change, the results of these measures do not satisfy the expectations of the people and especially those of farmers, who lack decision making freedom.

A real change, which is becoming more and more necessary, should begin with profound transformations in MINAG, not just superficial ones. Transformations that encompass management chain cadres, intermediaries, and the producers themselves, but above all, that revolutionize the state enterprise system, where the greatest inefficiencies in production and marketing are found. It won’t be until then that we reach the goal of substituting imports and building a sustainable offer, which Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz spoke about on May 10 during the meeting to present this document.

So, one wonders, under what conditions are these measures announced?

The Tarea Ordenamiento (or “Organizing Task” or “OT”) was introduced on January 1st, 2021, a process promoted by the Cuban Government which is trying to save the island’s economy through monetary and exchange rate unification, income reform, and the elimination of excessive subsidies, among others. The O.T. shocked Cuban farmers with the low prices attributed to their production in relation to the high costs of necessary supplies and services. As is to be expected, this combination was terribly inefficient and as a consequence discouraged production. In the middle of this scenario, the government adjusted electricity and water rates, agricultural aviation, and others, in some cases at the expense of the state budget. But did it solve the problem?

The answer is, no, it did not. The fundamental objective of the new export and import capabilities (which must be done through state foreign trade companies) and the offers of agricultural inputs, tractors, and other equipment in stores that sell in Freely Convertible Currencies (dollars, euros, etc.) was to motivate farmers to invest, but it is unlikely they will carry out bold ventures without having guarantees of returns on their investments or that their profits will be respected. Let us not forget that the Constitution itself stipulates the limits for the accumulation of wealth in non-state hands.



Continue Reading:


The crisis in Cuban agriculture is serious, and the solutions to its main problems—lack of production, little application of science and technology, low stimulation of the productive forces, etc.—need the immediate commitment of all its actors.

The 63 measures recently announced are still insufficient, since they do not completely eliminate the Cuban farmers’ lack of decision-making freedom; however, these are the prelude to future changes.

The current government has before it the responsibility of pulling Cuba off the cliff, amidst the adversities imposed by the United States sanctions and the Covid-19 pandemic, which demands a true openness to citizen participation and creativity from all Cubans.

With Miriam Leiva, Spring 2010

Complete  Essay

Posted in Blog | Tagged , | Leave a comment


As much as the US embargo contributes to its problems, Cuba’s historic protests show that the government can’t ignore citizens’ legitimate demands

International Politics and Society, 23.08.2021 |

Carlos Alzugaray

Original Article: “Not Just the Us Embargo” 

After protests swept the whole country in July, the Cuban government has started taking measures to contain the fallout. While this response goes beyond the regime’s initial repression, it hasn’t yet entirely left that path. If the country’s leadership wants to survive this test, it has no choice but to respond to citizens’ legitimate demands.

Whether one may like it or not, the events of 11 July 2021 will have an effect on how Cubans themselves and their country. For most of the population, it was a sad day – and most people would rather not remember the sad days. But it cannot be ignored. At present, information about what actually happened is still patchy; it is difficult to navigate between fake news and the official versions of events.

What has been established is that, on Sunday 11July, there were widespread anti-government protests, some of which ended in violence – and this had never happened before in Cuba. As such, many observers and indeed the authorities themselves were surprised. The result was images of violence and a situation which had escalated out of control. Whatever the details, this is objectively damaging for the Cuban government: and even if, as looks unlikely, the situation settles back down, the reputational damage will last.


Actually, the Cuban government shouldn’t have been surprised by the course of events – this being the same government that had for months been talking up the possibility of a ‘soft coup’ or a ‘colour revolution’ planned across the water by its arch-enemy, the US. Perhaps it was the surprise of something actually happening that led the government to clamp down so repressively, while pursuing the same endless propaganda communication strategy as ever despite its demonstrably diminishing returns.

It’s equally surprising that this unrest did not surface much earlier, considering the privations to which the Cuban population has long been subject and which have been further worsened by the pandemic.

Thanks to the social progress of the early years and Cuba’s international high profile, unrest in the country was staved off.

Now, the unrest is here – and its effect is palpable. Just three months after the Eighth Congress of the Communist Party and two years after establishing a new constitution, the new Cuban leadership finds itself in crisis. A crisis that, in many ways, evokes the situation in the socialist countries of eastern Europe just prior to their collapse.


There are, however, several differences. Cuba is a third-world country which, after years of neo-colonial suppression, liberated itself by means of a national revolution. As the result of an aggressive confrontation with Washington, this revolution became increasingly radical – and was initially successful, too, in its goal of halting the advance of US imperialism. The result was a socialist model that because of an alliance with the Soviet Union offered considerable advantages for at least the next three decades.

Thanks to the social progress of the early years and Cuba’s international high profile, unrest in the country was staved off. Essentially, the fact that the socialist regime not only survived a direct confrontation with the US but went on to become a unique actor on the world stage – not only during the Cold War, but beyond – conferred considerable credit on the government and allowed it freedom of manoeuvre in domestic issues.

These achievements and successes are without doubt the foundation of Cuban regime’s resilience and its people’s stoicism in the face of lasting and quite extraordinary difficulties. Yet while these difficulties certainly are caused by the US embargo, they are in no small part also the result of governmental inadequacy and poor policy. When it comes to the role of the country’s political opposition, the situation is similar. Certainly, some groups are being supported from the US with a view to subverting the Cuban regime.


Yet during the unrest, the activists with US support were less visible than those of the country’s domestic Movimiento San Isidro and 27N groupings. Then again, there is no doubt about the fact that protests were encouraged on social media – to no small degree by political influencers who do not live in Cuba, but rather mainly in Miami, where militant anti-Castro activism remains an important local industry financed from a range of state and non-state sources. In Cuban national reality, social media has become a toxic element as millions of dollars are pumped into fake-news campaigns aiming to destabilise the regime.

Even if, however, the trigger came from outside, unrest would not have flared up if it had, inside Cuba, not found fertile ground prepared by numerous political mistakes on the part of the government. Here, a range of factors played a role: in the poorest urban areas, conditions had worsened considerably; overall, food supply had become increasingly erratic; and after a successful start in combating the pandemic, the situation in healthcare was becoming unstable.

The government reacted by proclaiming that ‘the embargo is the problem’ and talking down the protests as ‘interference from outside’ in an effort to cover up its own errors. What the regime has underestimated is the dissatisfaction that this mantra now provokes. Certainly, the sanctions upheld against Cuba by the US for almost 60 years now represent, to paraphrase US historian Peter Beinart, a kind of economic war against a country under siege. Beinart is right to criticise the embargo as a non-military act of war – and one which, given that the stated aim has always been regime change, has never had much prospect of success. And while Washington refutes Cuban accusations, it is a simple matter of fact that Joe Biden has maintained sanctions imposed by Donald Trump even as the pandemic has continued to rage.

Continuing to place all the blame on external factors without any real introspection in respect of home-grown issues would be a grave mistake.

Yes, for more than six months now, the Biden Administration has failed to make good on its manifesto promise and remains locked in the Trumpian version of Republican Party logic vis-à-vis Cuba policy – the illusion that ever more extreme sanctions will eventually succeed in dislodging the regime which came to power in 1959. So this much seems likely: sanctions against Cuba will remain in place for the next three years; Cubans will get even poorer; the Cuban government will continue to be bullied.


In view of this, Havana is currently trying to contain the fallout. Yet the regime needs to examine the political and social situation – and grasp that only economic policy focusing on efficiency and activating domestic productive capacity can get the country out of the current crisis. Continuing to place all the blame on external factors without any real introspection in respect of home-grown issues would be a grave mistake. The reforms the government has promised, especially in respect of food distribution, need to be enacted – fast.

The issue of how to deal with the figureheads of the protests adds another layer of complexity to the situation. The government cannot allow the impression to develop that, either at home or abroad, it is cracking down hard on peaceful demonstrations. Yet currently, there are rumours about summary justice and questionable court proceedings leading to sentences of ten to twelve months for people who, in many cases, do not seem to have been involved in any acts of violence. This comes for Cubans who have only recently had the important experience of debating and then approving a new constitution in which the importance of fair trials is underscored. Now more than ever, citizens are demanding nothing more – and nothing less – than that the police act within the law.

The Cuban government, too, needs to rethink how it works. As its population is increasingly deaf to the argument that the embargo is the root of all evil, it needs to make a serious attempt to overcome two key political-ideological obstacles in its way. Firstly, there is the outdated approach to socialism as a system primarily steered from central planning bureaus; this dogmatic dirigisme reduces the role of the market in distributing resources to a minimum – with all the attendant problems. Secondly, the regime needs to distance itself from an idea of socialism as an authoritarian model that can ignore or even criminalise those whose criticism is intended to make the country’s economy more efficient and its society more democratic, to see its 2019 constitution enacted and establish the rule of law.


Yet the regime’s reaction to the events of 11 July as communicated official media channels showed no signs of overcoming this tendency. Those who took part in the protests have been discredited and decried as criminal elements – overlooking the specific and legitimate demands made by many in a peaceful manner. This may come back to haunt the regime.

These demonstrations represent a wholly new development for Cuba and make clear just what difficulties the country’s society is facing.

Furthermore, official announcements have sought to justify the use of repressive violence – a message with which many Cubans who, while not directly involved, have observed (and been shocked by) events, strongly disagree. Internationally, Cuba’s image has taken a hit. There is still no clarity about the number of demonstrations or how they played out, how many took part, and how many participants have been placed under arrest. Meanwhile, intellectuals and artists have publicly denounced the regime’s repressive course, with many demanding the release of all peaceful protestors – including such figures as songwriter Silvio Rodríguez, who enjoys a great deal of respect among many in government.

The lack of genuine information is leaving space for disinformation to circulate around both external actors and the country’s population – disinformation spread with the aim of undermining the government. At the same time, Cuban citizens have broadly accepted the precept that peaceful protests are legitimate and should be protected under law. This is a precept with which the government, however, in clear contravention of the principal of a socialist country under the rule of law, does not agree. This is not sending the right message – neither on a domestic nor international level.

These demonstrations represent a wholly new development for Cuba and make clear just what difficulties the country’s society is facing. These difficulties have been further aggravated by a US embargo which continues to impoverish the Cuban population and exert pressure on the country’s government. The current situation represents a stress-test for the Cuban regime, which would do well to remember that, when faced with similar situations, like-minded politicians had more success when they decided to pursue a path of generosity and listen to citizens’ legitimate concerns rather than leaving demands to fall on deaf ears.

The Spanish version of this article appeared in Nueva Sociedad.

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


El TOQUE, 27 / agosto / 2021

por Pavel Vidal Alejandro

Articulo Original: Criptomonedas en Cuba?

La RArticulo Originalesolución 215 del Banco Central de Cuba (BCC), recién publicada en la Gaceta Oficial, regula el uso de criptomonedas y otros activos digitales en el sistema financiero nacional. La norma contiene, de manera esencial, lo siguiente:

  1. Concibe el otorgamiento de licencia a proveedores de servicios de criptomonedas y otros activos virtuales para operaciones relacionadas con la actividad financiera, cambiaria y de cobranzas o de pagos, en y desde el territorio nacional.
  2. Prohíbe que las instituciones financieras, las empresas y otras personas jurídicas nacionales operen con activos virtuales y proveedores de estos servicios que no estén autorizados por el BCC. 
  3. No se prohíbe el uso de activos virtuales por parte de las personas naturales al margen del sistema financiero nacional.

A propósito de esta resolución y del uso cada vez más extendido de esta moneda en el archipiélago, vale decir que hay que ser cautelosos con las criptomonedas porque todavía no cumplen a cabalidad ninguna de las tres funciones que usualmente le pedimos a una moneda.

La tecnología que soporta las criptomonedas aún debe perfeccionarse para permitir una mayor cantidad de transacciones por minuto —como lo hacen instrumentos tradicionales de pago con cuentas bancarias o tarjetas de crédito—. Cuando se realiza una transacción con criptomonedas, en ocasiones, se deben esperar horas o días para que esta se refleje en las cuentas o monederos digitales de los usuarios. Por tanto, como medio de pago, aún poseen muchas desventajas en comparación con el dinero bancario tradicional; como unidad de cuenta, también, pues son muy pocos los bienes y servicios que expresan sus precios en criptomonedas.

Para cualquier empresa resulta muy complejo manejar un flujo de caja derivado de operaciones de ingresos y gastos valorados en criptomonedas, a causa de la alta volatilidad de sus tasas de cambio. Debido a esta alta volatilidad en el precio de las criptomonedas, tampoco deberían ser atractivas para emplearse como depósito de reserva o reserva de valor (tercera función que debe cumplir el dinero).

Sin embargo, esta última función —y a pesar de la volatilidad— es la que ha ganado más terreno en el campo de uso de las criptomonedas. Para muchos, sí han constituido una opción de inversión financiera. Es una decisión personal, pero, por lo general, los inversores con una aversión al riesgo baja o moderada, no suelen invertir en activos con tanta volatilidad. Tampoco lo harían porque resulta difícil en esos casos proteger la inversión mediante la diversificación del portafolio y la inclusión de otros activos con los cuales presente una correlación negativa.

Resolución del Banco Central de Cuba sobre criptoactivos: preguntas y respuestas

Los expertos en finanzas han encontrado que es arduo hallar activos que cubran o compensen, dentro de un portafolio de inversión, los riesgos que se corren con la exposición a la volatilidad de las criptomonedas. Para muchos economistas, el incremento excesivo del valor de las criptomonedas posee las características de una burbuja financiera.  

Dicho esto, puedo entender que en el caso cubano las criptomonedas podrían generar beneficios (los cuales deben valorarse junto a las desventajas). Por esa razón, el Banco Central de Cuba decidió autorizar este tipo de operaciones en el sistema bancario y financiero nacional. Sabemos que los actores económicos nacionales —estatales y privados— tienen restricciones financieras asociadas a las sanciones estadounidenses. Estas les impiden maniobrar con normalidad en el sistema financiero internacional. No pueden emplear el dólar estadounidense en los mercados internacionales cuando esa moneda es el principal medio de pago en el comercio global, la unidad de cuenta más recurrida para fijar los precios de las materias primas y los valores de contratos de todo tipo, y la que más se invierte en activos financieros diversos por fuera de las fronteras nacionales.

En síntesis, las criptomonedas todavía presentan varios inconvenientes para reemplazar de manera global al dinero fiduciario y bancario tradicional. Pero, para la economía cubana —analizándola en el escenario financiero inusual en que actúa debido al embargo estadounidense y los altos costos que este le ocasiona—, se entiende que las criptomonedas puedan ser una opción para eludir sanciones y generar beneficios netos.

Las criptomonedas tienen el potencial de generar alternativas financieras para el comercio exterior de Cuba, para los flujos de remesas, y podrían usarse para financiar las pequeñas y medianas empresas desde el exterior. Habrá que ver cómo se desarrollará la infraestructura financiera cubana para hacer operativa la Resolución 215 del Banco Central de Cuba.


Comprar bitcóin y otras criptomonedas desde Cuba

Aunque aún son pocas y no tan conocidas las opciones para pagar con criptomonedas desde Cuba, cada día su uso es más frecuente. Te mostramos cómo puedes adquirirlas.

Remesas con criptomonedas: nueva forma de enviar dinero a Cuba

Las criptomonedas no tienen fronteras; están descentralizadas y pueden cambiarse por divisas de valor internacional. Esas es una de las razones por las cuales las remesas con criptomonedas se han convertido en los últimos meses en una forma para enviar dinero a Cuba con menos restricciones.

Pavel Vidal Alejandro: Profesor Asociado del Departamento de Economía de la Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali. Doctor en Ciencias Económicas de la Universidad de La Habana. Ha sido investigador invitado en la Universidad de Columbia, Universidad de Harvard, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Universidad de Oslo y en el Institute of Developing Economies (Japan External Trade Organization).

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , | Leave a comment


By Nora Gámez Torres

Miami Herald, August 26, 2021 06:55 PM \

Original Article

President Miguel Diaz-Canel

With the world watching as Cubans protested on the streets all over the island on July 11, Cuban leader Miguel Díaz-Canel took what some experts believe was a decision that will come back to haunt him: He gave a “combat order” to fellow revolutionaries to squash those calling for freedom and the “end of the dictatorship.”

In the aftermath of images of police repression and pro-government mobs hitting protesters with clubs going viral, there has been a rare wave of criticism from government insiders, state journalists, and prominent figures in the arts, pointing to a crisis of governance in the communist island that no other leader has faced in six decades.

Diaz-Canel recently told journalists working for state-sanctioned outlets that he doesn’t regret the order to crack down on anti-government demonstrators. But the fact that he felt the need to gather the journalists at a meeting Saturday to justify his decision is the latest example of a damage-control campaign to restore his dwindling popularity and political standing.

“I made a call to the people that day because it seemed to me that it was the right thing to do and that I do not regret or will not regret,” he said in a video of the meeting that was later edited and televised this week. “We had to defend against demonstrations that were not peaceful at all. And that is a false story that they have also put out there.”

But even in the controlled setting of the Palace of the Revolution, and among some of his more staunch defenders, he could not avoid criticism.

A young journalist who works on Editorial de la Mujer, or Women’s Publishing, stood up and told him that political troubles call for “political solutions… not only, or not police actions.”

“President, you acknowledged that apologies should be given wherever an excess was committed,” said Lirians Gordillo. “We also need to tell those stories because nothing can harm this country more than an injustice or an excess that is not recognized out loud.”

A day after his controversial statement on July 11, Diaz-Canel appeared on television to walk back his words and strike a more conciliatory tone. But a month later, his “combat order” and the violent repression that followed, including hundreds of documented detentions and summary trials, are still causing him trouble.

Sweating despite the air conditioning at the Palace of the Revolution and stumbling over his words a couple of times, the leader acknowledged Saturday that there might have been “some excesses.” He said those cases would be investigated but denied that there are protesters who are “disappeared or have been tortured.”

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Cubalex, all human-rights organizations tracking the arrests, have documented cases of mistreatment and protesters whose whereabouts are still unknown.

“Díaz-Canel has lost all credibility,” said a source close to the Cuban government who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation. “That day he appeared on TV and said what he said, all hopes among the younger generations that he would be a reformer were destroyed in 20 minutes. And from then on, he has continued to screw up.”

Shortly after images of the violence spread on social media, prominent Cuban musicians and other members of the island’s artistic community, including Leo Brouwer, Adalberto Alvarez, Elito Reve and members of the legendary band Los Van Van, posted candid criticism on social media.

Brouwer said he never imagined that security forces would attack peaceful Cubans.

“Impossible to be silent,” said Alvarez. “The beatings and the images I see of the violence against a people that took to the streets to peacefully express what they feel hurt me.”

“The streets in Cuba belong to the Cubans. I can not do less than be by your side in difficult times,” he wrote on Facebook.

In a stunning rebuke of Díaz-Canel’s response to the crisis, a former Cuban ambassador who frequently defends the government’s views on foreign media said Cuban authorities could not ignore its citizens’ legitimate demands.

Carlos Alzugaray, a former ambassador to the European Union, wrote an opinion column criticizing the government’s “clampdown” on protesters “so repressively, while pursuing the same endless propaganda communication strategy as ever despite its demonstrably diminishing returns.”

While he repeated the government line that the U.S. embargo is the source of Cuba’s economic troubles, he added they were “in no small part also the result of governmental inadequacy and poor policy.” And, he added, the Cuban government was “proclaiming that ‘the embargo is the problem’ and talking down the protests as ‘interference from outside’ in an effort to cover up its own errors.”

The message, however, does not appear to be getting through at the top levels of the Cuban government.

Last week, the government published a draconian law to criminalize expressing dissenting opinions on the internet. Diaz-Canel seems to be on a personal crusade against social media, which he called a “colonial tool” that promotes hate.

The Cuban leader has not been treated kindly by his fellow Cubans on social media, where he is constantly derided, when not made the butt of jokes and memes. A vulgar insult repeated by thousands of people during the demonstrations has now become attached to his name on Google search.

After Raúl Castro picked him to succeed him in 2018, Diaz-Canel has faced one crisis after another. Widespread shortages and blackouts, and controversial decisions like selling food in U.S. dollars that the population does not earn, have made him an unpopular figure and the target of the demonstrators’ anger.

From the beginning, his position has been tenuous. As a non-Castro, he doesn’t have the credibility of the so called históricos, those who fought for the revolution in the 1950s in the Sierra Maestra mountains. But he still needs to cater to Communist Party hardliners. And he is expected to carry out long-delayed reforms like the currency unification that has angered ordinary Cubans even more.

“He might as well become a one-term president, since he was left all the ugly stuff to make the country survivable” in financial terms, said John Kavulich, the president of the US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council.

Still, Diaz-Canel was named the Party’s First Secretary in April this year, after Raul Castro’s official retirement, a powerful position he could have used to stop the repression of protesters “if he had the will,” the source close to the island’s government said.

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