Cuba reform

By Piroska Mohácsi Nagy, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

An historic thawing of ties between Cuba and the United States has raised the question of how far the Communist island state is prepared to go in opening up its economy to the forces of the market and integration with the international community.

If and when Cuba does embark on a path of economic – and perhaps also a degree of political transformation – it could well enjoy the advantages of the late-comer, drawing lessons both positive and negative from eastern Europe over the last quarter of a century. Read more

CUCs and CUPs – know your pesos

Monetary reform rarely gets the pulse racing. But on the colonial streets of old Havana, Cuba’s pending monetary reform is one of the hottest topics around.

“My parishioners talk about it all the time,” says one local priest. Even World Bank officials are excited. Augusto de la Torre, the bank’s chief Latin America economist, has just penned a learned article on the subject. There are two reasons why everyone is getting worked up. Read more

By Christopher Sabatini of the Americas Society/Council of the Americas

Last week, President Barack Obama accomplished a minor (and, judging by recent events, rare) diplomatic and political victory. At a fundraiser in Miami, the President reinforced his commitment to updating US policy toward Cuba, attributing some of the positive changes in the growth of entrepreneurship to the administration’s loosening of restrictions on travel and remittances, and hinted at more to come. The novelty wasn’t just that he trumpeted the success of the administration’s steps to liberalize the embargo on Cuba; it was that the President made his comments and promises of more change to Cuban-Americans in Miami – and was warmly received. Read more

A significant step in Cuba’s long march to market-orientated economic reform is about to begin next week, when a unit of Brazil’s Odebrecht reopens a shuttered sugar mill in the southern province of Cienfuegos.

Sugarcane was an icon of the island’s economy both before and after the 1959 revolution, but since the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba has dropped out of the Premier League of the world’s sugar exporters. Read more

Even as the Cuban president, Raúl Castro, fumes over stumbling blocks placed by his own party bureaucracy to economic reforms, the internet is beginning to remove them one by one.

Castro appears to be meeting resistance from communist diehards – or more likely old-fashioned stick-in-the-muds – to his proposals that would allow private ownership in homes and cars, for example, on the Communist island.

That simply is not a problem for a handful of internet sites that are, in effect, putting the reforms into practice. Read more