Article originally published in NYT: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/28/opinion/cuba-economy.html
For the past 60 years, Cuba has been unable to finance its imports with its own exports and generate appropriate, sustainable growth without substantial aid and subsidies from a foreign nation. This is the longstanding legacy of Cuba’s socialist economy.
La constante fundamental en los 60 años de la economía socialista de Cuba ha sido su total incapacidad para generar un crecimiento adecuado y sostenible, sin ayuda y subsidios considerables de una nación extranjera, a fin de poder financiar sus importaciones con sus propias exportaciones. La historia de esta dependencia económica comenzó con España en la época de la colonia, continuó con Estados Unidos durante la primera república, se expandió de manera significativa con la Unión Soviética y finalmente con Venezuela desde el inicio de este siglo.
On Thursday, January 10 at 10:00 a.m., controversial leftist leader Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second 6-year term as President of Venezuela despite deteriorating economic and political conditions throughout the country. Although Maduro’s inauguration crowd was undeniably more sparse than in the past, a few leaders and foreign dignitaries made a point to make an appearance and show their support for the regime in spite of widespread international criticism.
In the past several months, Cuban citizens have been gathering in government-organized public forums around the country to discuss a reworking of the Cuban Constitution. The current constitution was created during the Cold War when Cuba was undergoing the Communist Revolution and was applicable to the goals of the Communist regime in Cuba. However, now that the political atmosphere is significantly different than during the Soviet-era, Cubans hope to make changes to the constitution that will better reflect Cuban society today.
Around the world millions of people are exposed, even over-exposed, to messages and social media through the accessibility of their smartphone. Whether they are in a bus, in school, at work, or in the comfort of their own home. As many daily realities differ between the United States and Cuba, the benefit of unrestricted Internet access at our fingertips is taken for granted. In Cuba, in order for people to have access to the Internet they must purchase an access card from the state-run telecommunications company called Etecsa for about one U.S. dollar per hour.
In December of 2014, United States President Barack Obama made a monumental announcement that he planned to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba after the 50-year embargo. The embargo was to be kept in place, but steps were to be taken to loosen it. An embassy was to be built in Cuba to increase diplomatic ties. Measures were taken to increase financial freedoms between the two countries.
Years of uneasiness and distrust define the relationship between the United States and Cuba, a trend which continues today. While some strides have been made to improve their interconnection, there is still a Cold War sentiment that plagues discussions, not to mention many are still in support of Castro. During former President Obama’s administration extreme efforts were made to change with Cuba but are now being changed by President Trump’s office. While some fractions of Obama’s policy still remain, the language used by Trump is disconcerting and does not instill a positive future.
Earlier last month, Cubans Americans held their breath as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson contemplated what would become of Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act. Eventually passing the responsibility off to Thomas Shannon, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, it was decided that the measure would be suspended another six months, to the dismay of thousands who believed the Trump administration would upend the long disputed bill (Torres 2018).