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Cuba Undertakes Reforms in Midst of Economic Crisis

Graph of Food Production Per Capita Index, 1961-2005
By Roger Burbach

September 20, 2009

Carlos picks me up with his dated Soviet-made Lada at the Jose Marti International Airport on a hot sweltering day in Havana. It’s been eight months since I’ve seen him, last January to be precise, when I came to the island on the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. “How’s it been?” I ask him as we begin the 20 minute drive to central Havana. With a scowl, he replies: “Not so good, nothing seems to get easier.” He goes on to say that foodstuffs are as difficult as ever to come by, necessitating long waits in line for rationed commodities.

I am not surprised, as I had been reading in the international press that Cuba has been compelled to curtail its food imports. Hit by the global economic crisis, spending by tourists dropped off while the price of nickel, Cuba’s main mineral export, fell by more than half. This meant that Cuba has no choice but to cut agricultural imports from its main supplier, the United States. Credit purchases are not an option, as the U.S. legislation in 2000, opening up agricultural sales to Cuba, requires immediate payment in hard currency.

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Graph-- Cuban figures:Source: EarthTrends, 2008

1 Com:

bro1 | September 22, 2009

I enjoyed this article.

I did not expect to see remotely critical comment regards Cuba at GLW. (Probably says more about me and my previous experience being SHOUTED to regards Cuba).

In my opinion, 50 wasted years. Hopefully the changes Cuba is undergoing will lead to greater democratic participation and people will finally be able to decide what to earn, where to go, who to love, what to read/write - rather than be subject to the will of a strong man with a gun. (opinion only)

I think both left & right would agree it is a shame that the (very well educated) Cuban population does not see a future in farming currently. Cuba has proven ability to feed themselves and create a surplus. Hope change happens for them soon.

Thanks for the opportunity to post.

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