Foreign Policy: Getting Ready for Life after Castro
Early this month, a senior Cuban official raised the possibility of loosening travel restrictions, potentially making it far easier for Cuban citizens to travel abroad as tourists. So far, little is known about the details of the policy Havana has in mind. But the flurry of interest stirred by this news reminds us that change in Cuba can potentially have far-reaching strategic and political implications, for its own people as well as for the regions that surround it.
There is a great deal that can be done in advance to prepare for the day when the post-Castro transition begins. The Cuba Transition Project (CTP) at the University of Miami, created in 2001 with the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development, has become a major authority on Cuban affairs. The project has released major studies on transition by both academics and experts, as well as a variety of other reports on topics such as political parties, labor unions, a free press, and economic reform. (The works cited in this article have all been produced under CTP auspices.)
In the early 1990s, many people expected the communist regime in Cuba to collapse. Those of us who followed the situation closely knew better, and subsequent events have borne out our caution. The post-Castro transition will indeed come one day, but when it does, it promises to be a long and complicated process.
The challenges are many. First, there will be the tremendous task of economic reconstruction. For nearly four decades, Cuba’s extreme dependence on the Soviet bloc for trade, and the distorting effects of huge subsidies from Moscow, created an artificial economy. Most of Cuba’s exports are in decline, and poverty is correspondingly growing. ….Read More
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