Lucía Guevara

Lucía Guevara

Point of departure (Infographic)

Bad winds blowing in 2013 In 2013 the Cuban economy was very much affected by the ravages of Hurricane Sandy, which hit the eastern part of the island in late 2013. Total losses amounted to about $7 billion. Food prices rose and so did the country’s expenditures in that area. The 2012-2013 sugar cane harvest, which only met 89 percent of the target, did not provide the expected amount of hard currency income due to a 15.5 percent drop in prices on the international market. In 2013, tourism grew by just 0.5 percent, and the much-anticipated goal of three million tourists was not met. A high-value service economy? The export of professional services provides Cuba with the highest amount of its hard-currency income for several years now. According to the Ministry of Foreign Trade, in 2012 the export of services—mostly medical and paramedic—brought in $11 billion. As of now, the largest proportion of those funds has come from Venezuela, where about 20,000 Cuban doctors are providing their services. The Brazilian government recently contracted about 5,400 doctors for its multinational program Mais Médicos (“More Doctors”), and it was announced that by late January of 2014, about 6,000 additional professionals would be...

Is this the end of the dual currency?

Some expectations must have been deflated again this weekend, after the rumors of the first ordinary session of Cuban Parliament’s Eighth Legislature. At the end of the meeting, President Raul Castro addressed the deputies, the country and the world, with a short speech, as usual, where he put his foot on the brake again. There won’t be "radical measures", in case anyone still had doubts. This legislature, which will run until 2018, will be the last one in which the current direction of the country will chair the main body of government in Cuba. But Raul Castro has said this for the umpteenth time. It will be maintained the course of reforms based on partial and territorial experiments, legal framework adjustment and problem solutions only after being proven; all, without "hurry". "There is a long and complex way to run for updating our economic and social model," Raul Castro said, but excluded "the use of shock therapies and abandonment of millions of people characterizing the adjustment policies implemented in recent years in various nations of Europe ." After three years of the implementation of some of the most significant changes resulting from the Economic Policy Guidelines, the reforms still fail...

A breath of fresh air: Renewable energy sources

In less than a decade, Cuba has focused, with more interest than ever, on renewable energy sources, as part of a comprehensive policy that began to be organized in 2005, pursuing energy independence and environmental sustainability. Cuba now produces some 4 million tons of oil annually, most of it for generating electricity, and the promise of a major “black gold” strike persists in the Gulf of Mexico; however, for now the country remains dependent on fuel imports and suffers from an energy shortage that is holding back development and affecting its economic competitiveness. Meanwhile, the sun provides heat and the winds caress the archipelago. In December of 2012, a presidential decree stipulated the creation of a government commission charged with drawing up a proposal by this July for a “Policy for the use and prospective development of these sources for the 2013-2030 period.” One of the tasks for this group of experts is to define a legal platform for promoting economic incentives for producers and the residential sector. Another of its missions is to design a strategy for foreign investment, with a focus on chains of production that will project the most appropriate technological structure and energy sources. Moreover, this...

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