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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