Exploring Cuba’s Developing Economy
Professor Roger Betancourt, a faculty member in the College of Behavioral and Social Science’s (BSOS) Department of Economics whose expertise includes the development of the Cuban economy, recently published a groundbreaking article in Cuban Affairs. Titled “Why Cuba Remained a Colony while Latin America Became Independent: Implications for the Current ‘Transition,’” the article examines Cuba’s relatively prolonged Spanish colonization and its impact on Cuba’s current struggles to build a democratic market economy, a process which has been complicated by Cuba’s unique relationship with the United States.
Cuba’s economic development is of particular importance to the United States for a number of reasons, Professor Betancourt explains. These include its exports, its racial and cultural tensions, the possible development of a strong and amicable relationship with the United States, and Cuba’s role in international oil production—especially in light of the likelihood of an oil boom within the next few years. The oil production factor raises a common environmental interest between the United States and Cuba, Professor Betancourt said, prompted by fears of oil spills.
In addition to its impact on key international economic dialogues, Professor Betancourt’s new paper led to an interview with Al Jazeera, in which economic opportunity and the desire for change felt by many Cubans were discussed. Professor Betancourt said that for many Cubans, “change is desirable and necessary,” though power shifts are difficult and complex.
“Most Cubans welcome recent and future elimination of the restrictions in the economic sphere already promulgated by the Raul Castro government. Yet, those same persons would be considerably more skeptical about the credibility of announcements of similar changes in the political sphere whether promulgated by the Castro government or supported by the U.S. government,” Professor Betancourt said. “Thus, the best strategy for the United States in terms of what Cubans may find credible would be to support the continued and full implementation of these changes in the economic sphere and their extensions into as many other aspects of economic life as possible.”
Read the Al Jazeera article.
Read Professor Betancourt’s paper.