The Technology Boom and Latin America

 

How Former President Obama Sought Improved US Relations with Cuba

The former chair of Harvard University’s Academy for International and Area Studies, Jorge Dominguez retired from active teaching after more than 45 years at the University. Jorge Dominguez has written extensively about US relations with Cuba, specifically on the improved relations the two countries have had since former President Barrack Obama took office.

Obama was keen to improve relations between the United States and Cuba. He first made known his willingness to engage in dialogue with Cuba during the 2007 Democratic Primary Debate. After winning the party ticket and consequently the presidency, he made a concerted effort to engage with the island nation. He lifted restrictions on remittances and facilitated easier travel between the US and Cuba, slowly chipping away at an economic embargo that had been in place for decades.

However, it was not until his second term that he pushed to normalize relations between the two countries. Through a raft of bilateral agreements that began in 2014, former President Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro negotiated a historic prisoner swap and further eased restrictions on travel between the two countries. The new push for normalized relations saw the Cuban government open a bank account in the United States, US companies begin operating in Cuba, and postal services between the two countries resume. Cuba was removed from the US State Sponsors of Terrorism List in 2015, and, months later, Obama became the first sitting US president to set foot on Cuba in 88 years.

2015 Paper Reveals Important Insights into Cuban Economy

Jorge Dominguez
Image: people.fas.harvard.edu

A former professor at Harvard University, Jorge Dominguez achieved the distinction of becoming the institution’s first vice provost for international affairs before retiring in 2018. With a focus on Latin American politics, Jorge Dominguez regularly shared his insights in newspaper and magazine articles, including the paper “What You Might not Know About the Cuban Economy,” published in the Harvard Business Review.

The article furnished a comprehensive look at the history of the Cuban economy, backed up by statistics to help readers understand how the country may develop following the restoration of Cuban-U.S. ties in 2014. For instance, it highlighted the fact that the country’s gross domestic product per capita in 1985 was approximately the same as in 2015. Further, the Cuban economy hadn’t effectively recovered since the 2008-2009 financial crisis, and, at the time of the article’s publication, the annual growth rate had the potential to be close to zero.

One of the positive aspects of the Cuban economy the article focused on was the country’s sustained investment in human capital. Individuals in the Cuban workforce are well-educated and furnished inexpensive services, and these assets could be enhanced through smart investment and government legislation.

Frontline – Crisis in Central America

Jorge Dominquez
Jorge Dominquez

A former professor of government and international affairs, Jorge Dominguez retired from Harvard University in June 2018. In addition to editing more than a dozen books and writing a range of books and articles, Jorge Dominguez served as the senior editor of the Frontline special report, Crisis in Central America.

A four-part Frontline series that originally aired in the spring of 1985, Crisis in Central America is divided into the episodes “The Yankee Years,” “Castro’s Challenge,” “Revolution in Nicaragua,” and “Battle for El Salvador.” The makers of this comprehensive television project employed rare historical footage to examine the long history of American involvement in Cuba, taking viewers from the 1898 Spanish-American War to wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua through the mid 1980s. There is an in-depth analysis of circumstances in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Cuba, and the wider set of countries in Central America and the Caribbean, as well as a close examination, in visual splendor, of U.S. policies toward this region.

The Peabody Board honored the journalistic achievement of Crisis in Central America with Peabody Awards for both WGBH-TV and The Blackwell Corporation.

The Cuban Economy in a New Era

Recently retired Harvard University professor Jorge Dominguez taught at the school from 1972 to 2018. Over the course of his career, Jorge Dominguez has authored and edited a wide range of books and articles on political science and international affairs. One of Dr. Dominguez’ most recent projects was co-editing The Cuban Economy in a New Era.

Subtitled “An Agenda for Change toward Durable Development,” the book features contributions from leading Cuban economists who have been collaborating with Harvard scholars for more than a decade. The Harvard University David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies published the book in 2017 for distribution through the Harvard University Press.

The Cuban Economy in a New Era begins by examining a range of challenges within the Cuban economic system, including its bankrupt sugar industry and dilapidated public infrastructure. The book then outlines possible solutions to Cuba’s economic woes in areas that include macroeconomic policy, central planning, state enterprise management, and partnerships with global financial institutions.

Shift to Renewables Projected to Boost Mexico’s Economy

Jorge Dominguez
Image: people.fas.harvard.edu

Having served as Harvard University’s first vice provost for international affairs, former professor Dr. Jorge Dominguez has undertaken extensive research on Latin American economies. Among Dr. Jorge Dominguez’s responsibilities was as the institution’s Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico.

A recent Forbes article drew attention to the potential of Mexico’s Paris Agreement pledge to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by as much as 36 percent by 2030, as having the potential for a significant economic impact as well. This reflects World Resources Institute (WRI) quantitative analysis that points to a strong decarbonization path as saving $5 billion in cumulative costs and helping prevent 26,000 premature deaths.

A majority of the proposed decarbonization efforts are centered on Mexico’s transportation, electricity, and industrial sectors. Unfortunately, there is at present no clear decarbonization plan, and emissions in the world’s 10th leading GHG emitter are forecast to rise by 75 percent over the next three decades under business-as-usual scenarios.

Within a WRI-recommended renewable portfolio standard, Mexico will need to increase distributed solar and wind energy sources exponentially to attain its goals. Fortunately, the installation and maintenance of such large scale systems will also be a significant economic driver.

New U.S. Policies Target Cuban Socialism While Hurting Entrepreneurs

Jorge Dominguez
Image: people.fas.harvard.edu

As a Harvard University professor emeritus, Jorge I. Dominguez, PhD, brought focus to Latin American politics while expanding the institution’s presence in international affairs. One of Dr. Jorge Dominguez’s areas of focus was on developing a fuller understanding of, and explicating, the complex social and economic underpinnings of Cuba’s oft-dysfunctional communist government.

A recent article in Quartz brought attention to recent moves by the Trump administration to restrict movement of people and cash between Cuba and the United States. The new policies announced by National Security Advisor John Bolton include severely restricting U.S. travel to Cuba and limiting the amount of money Cuban Americans can send to family members in Cuba to $1,000 per three-month period.

Many of the existing sources of hard currency revenue and capital are in tourist sectors such as hotels, restaurants, tours, and travel guides. With Cuba at high risk of losing Venezuela as an oil-backed economic patron, food and fuel shortages are an increasing concern, and continuing economic stagnation looms large.

Unfortunately, the effect of the new U.S. policies will be most impactful against a nascent community of entrepreneurs who have responded to economic liberalization in recent years. The post-Castro government is one that has weathered six decades of crippling embargoes and knows about subsistence survival.

Travel restrictions are likely to prevent the emergence of an alternative to “stagnant state-owned enterprises.” Additionally, by pushing Cuba away, the U.S. will effectively incentivize the communist country to forge stronger ties with China and Russia.

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