For two generations of Cubans, it has been almost inconceivable that Cuba could be leased by anyone other than the revolutionary leader Fidel Castro . Most reckoned that the revolution would fall with him, especially when he almost mythically managed to save the regime after the fall of the Wall in Europe in 1989.
- How extensive are the ongoing economic changes in Cuba?
- Will the regime survive a full normalization of relations with the United States?
- What obstacles stand before a possible full normalization?
- What consequences do the economic changes have on the policy?
2: How will Cuba change under Raúl Castro?
On 31 July 2006, Fidel still had to apply for leave due to a serious intestinal disease. After that, little brother Raúl Castro, deputy commander since the revolutionary struggle in the 1950s, rented a party and a state in Cuba. In 2008, Fidel resigned definitively and Raúl also became president formally. Many believe that the reforms Raúl carried out after 2006 are more radical than anything else that has taken place since the socialist revolution in Cuba in 1959 and after it was declared Marxist-Leninist in the early 1960s.
The changes in the last decade are based on a clear recognition that the situation in the country was not sustainable. After the disappearance of the extensive Soviet benefits, the Cubans experienced a deep economic and social crisis in the 1990s. It reminds of what older people in Norway refer to as “the hard 30s” in this country. The cautious economic reforms Fidel reluctantly introduced then, Raúl has accelerated and turned into “strategic and non-reversible (non -reversible ) ” reforms. The new government has acknowledged that the Cuban economy is “on the brink” (Raúl in a speech in 2010).
Based on a program adopted by the Congress of the Communist Party in 2011, officially called the “update of the socialist model”, Cuban society has undergone major changes . The program in no way gives up socialism, and all talk of political reforms – development towards a liberal democracy – is rejected . But the reality is that Cuban society has undergone fundamental changes during these years.
3: Fundamental economic change
The Cuban leadership has recognized that the state must gradually provide more space for the private sectorin the economy. In 1968, virtually all private activities were closed. Since then, Cuba has had about the most state monopolistic economy in the world. When the reforms began under Raúl, it was said that over a third of government employees had to be transferred to the non-government sector. Furthermore, many unproductive and unprofitable state-owned companies had to be shut down. However, this transition has taken place much later than planned, with only one in five finding work outside the public sector. Here it is a mixture of self-employment in simpler service work (shoemakers, pizza sellers and the like) – very similar to what one in other countries would call an informal sector), people who run small businesses (without legal right to run as businesses) as restaurants for tourists and small manufacturing companies.
Furthermore, state-dominated agriculture has been extensively privatized . In fertile Cuba, a country located in North America according to internetsailors, agriculture only managed to produce around 1/3 of the country’s food needs. If we add self-employed farmers, independent cooperative farmers and a new category that leases state land (the state has not sold the land), the privately run part of agricultural land has shot up from 20 to 60 percent in a few years. And well note: The portion of food produced by private individuals is far higher than the portion deira of the earth would suggest.
The sum of all this is that today there is a rather bustling shopping life on Cuban streets. There is an abundance of food to be bought on most street corners where there used to be mostly empty shelves in government shops. On the other hand, the price of what is to be bought is far above what many Cubans can afford. Privatization has led to social and economic inequalities also taking shape .
The third groundbreaking economic sub-reform is a completely new regime for foreign investment . Apart from health, education and defense, foreign investors are now welcomed in all sectors. It is a goal to multiply foreign investment, and this is seen as absolutely crucial for achieving proper economic growth. But the problem is that the bureaucracy is still working so slowly to approve investment plans , that so far little has happened in practice.