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Cuba - Land of Potential


By smithdm3 - Posted on 02 December 2008

As Meg has detailed in two posts, we recently went to Cuba for our honeymoon. She does a great job of detailing what we did and saw, but I thought I'd do a quick post just to lay out some of my thoughts about the country.

Cuba is most certainly an interesting place. The socialist government seems largely to be accepted by the people as a good thing, though you can see that there are issues that perturb some - especially those of the 30 and under crowd.

The government of Fidel (and now Raul) Castro came to power by overthrowing (in their second try) the government of Batista in 1959. While Batista wasn't able to flee to the US, many of his more wealthy supporters did, emigrating to Miami. The new Cuban socialist government then began nationalizing properties and US businesses in the country, the result of this of course led to the US embargo against the country.

The new government focused on delivering equal services to the people. They did a great amount of work to nearly eradicate illiteracy and strengthened their education and health systems.

As a result of the embargo, Cuba doesn't have a lot. It's crazy that they have the world's largest consumers less than two hundred miles away and can't do business with them. The country has a great climate, though it does get more than it's fair share of hurricanes. It has an educated population that wants to do more, but their current systems don't allow a lot of capitalism. That being said, everyone does something under the table to earn some extra money, so there is a large underground economy. But without competition and incentive, efficiency isn't necessarily always a concern.

More recently the government has been easing off some of it's anti-capitalist tendencies. For instance, artisans can purchase permits that allow them to sell their wares (with no quotas). Just opening up the economy would be too much of a shock, but hopefully more of these little changes will occur. I hope to go back in 10 years or so to see what has changed.


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