The author or editor of several books related to Cuba, including The Cuban Economy in a New Era, Jorge I. Dominguez is a former vice provost of Harvard University. He is also a former vice president of the Weatherhead Foundation and a former president of the Institute of Cuban Studies. Jorge I. Dominguez continues to study Cuba’s economy in the midst of the country’s current economic crisis.
Though some analysts predict that Cuba’s economy will grow by 4 percent in 2022, this growth comes off the back of several years of decline and stagnation. This decline peaked in 2020 when Cuba experienced a 10.2 percent economic downswing.
Several factors currently influence the difficult economic times in Cuba. Flawed economic policy decisions and excessive reliance on state enterprises marked by gross inefficiency lead the list. Former president Donald Trump’s re-implementation of sanctions, which include flight restrictions and the banning of cruises, reduced Cuba’s tourism trade. The economic crisis in Venezuela, which is a key Cuban ally, has also contributed. Furthermore, a decline of 65 percent in Cuban exports from 1989 to 2019 means the country is no longer able to fund its imports with the money earned from exports. These factors combine to create a deepening economic crisis that a minor 2022 recovery will likely do little to assuage.
For over four decades, Jorge I. Dominguez taught Latin American politics at Harvard University, where he also served as the director of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard. Jorge I. Dominguez also has a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University. Over the years, he has written extensively about Cuba, Mexico, and Latin America. In 2012, he co-edited the book Cuban Economic and Social Development. The book analyzed Cuba’s socio-economic situation and provided recommendations for economic growth.
Although progress has been made for a long time, Cuba’s economy witnessed a downfall. From 2008 to 2015, investment was at 17 percent, and GDP dropped to 1 percent. The country’s debt and the U.S embargo remain a challenge to Cuba’s economic growth.
For Cuba to outgrow its current economic situation, experts suggest that the government prioritize sustainability while making policies as this helps in solving long-term economic issues. One step in achieving this is the elimination of factors hindering investment. For example, the government could make good incentives to encourage investment in agriculture. This action ensures financial gain and food security in the country.
They also made a case for diversification of the exports market, and exports prices should compete globally. It is known that Cuba has a booming tourism industry and a well-educated population. People go to Cuba for history, culture, business, and entertainment. Tourism alone generated 4.7 million visitors in 2018. This is an indicator to the government that people are willing to invest. These are factors that will help accomplish these recommendations.
In all of this, the Cuban government needs to become more transparent, especially in matters concerning international financial institutions. This would result in them being held accountable and careful of their financial decisions and policies.
Jorge I. Dominguez is an alumnus and longtime professor at Harvard University, where he most recently served as chair of the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. A successful writer and publisher, Jorge I. Dominguez is best known for his work in the areas of Latin America and Cuba that include “Social Policies and Decentralization in Cuba” and “The Cuban Economy in a New Era.”
Over 182 pages, The Cuban Economy in a New Era analyzes challenges and potential solutions as they relate to Cuba’s stagnant economy. The book, which includes commentary from professors Omar Everleny Perez Villanueva and Lorena Barberia, was published in 2018 by the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and distributed by Harvard University Press.
The Cuban Economy in a New Era pinpoints a number of ills burdening the Cuban economy, ranging from a decaying infrastructure to stagnant agriculture and a bankrupt sugar industry. Moreover, the book explores policy changes that could lead to improvements in seven economic areas. These are new macroeconomic policy, private enterprise, non-agricultural cooperatives, central planning, private sector financing, state enterprise management, and relations with international financial institutions.
For additional information on The Cuban Economy in a New Era, visit https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674980358.