Rafael Betancourt

Rafael Betancourt

MSc y PhD (ABD) en Economía (University of Florida, EUA), Máster en Ordenamiento Territorial y Urbanismo (ISPJAE, Cuba), Licenciado en Economía (University of Florida, EUA). Fundador y Co-coordinador de la Red Cubana de Economía Social y Solidaria - ESORSE, del Centro
Investigaciones Psicológicas y Sociológicas (CIPS). Profesor auxiliar del Centro de Estudios Demográficos (CEDEM) de la Universidad de La Habana. Miembro del Consejo Editorial Ampliado de la revista Temas. Investigador sobre temas de economía social y solidaria, turismo sostenible y migración internacional. Autor de diversos libros y artículos académicos y periodísticos. Conferencista sobre economía cubana en universidades de América y de Europa. Email:

Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

Social and Solidarity Economy’s contribution to building socialism in Cuba (I)

Help us keep OnCuba alive As reported by the Cuban government on June 11, the post-COVID-19 strategy will consist of two stages: recovery―return to normality, avoid new outbreaks, develop coping capacities and reduce risks and vulnerabilities―and the strengthening of the country’s economic activity. The latter will include adjusting the 2020 and 2021 Economic Plan, strengthening savings, generating more foreign exchange earnings, using more of the country’s resources in a more efficient way, and boosting national production, particularly food. President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez has insisted that Cuba will resume the course of updating the economic and social model, outlined since 2010 in the documents of the Party and the government.1 Díaz-Canel stated that, to face the crisis caused by COVID-19, “we have to come up with different things...we can’t continue doing things the same way.” He stressed the need to direct the work of the Permanent Commission for Implementation and Development, in order to evaluate “how, in a faster, more determined, more organized way, we implement a group of issues that are pending implementation in the Conceptualization of the Economic and Social Model.” Among the elements that have not yet been implemented, he mentioned some forms of management and ownership. Also,...

Photo: Ismael Francisco/AP.

How will the recovery of tourism in Cuba take place?

As the light begins to appear at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic tunnel in Cuba, with the reduction of new cases and deaths, and the progressive recovery of the sick, the gradual recovery of the tourism sector in the country, a key component of the Cuban economy, has started being addressed. Source: Prepared by the author based on data from the Cuban Ministry of Public Health until May 14. *Caption: Evolution of COVID-19 positive cases in Cuba Total      Active cases       Medical discharges Source: Prepared by the author based on data from the Cuban Ministry of Public Health, until May 14. *Caption: Total cases         Active   Recovered         Deceased           Evacuated   There are indications from the Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR) that in July opportunities will open up for national tourism to access a circuit of renovated and fitted-out hotels; it will be necessary to see under what conditions and with what protection measures. But if state hotels are opened, it will be necessary to include other links in the value chain: travel agencies, tourism bureaus, tourist transportation, restaurants, cafes and certain non-hotel activities; and it will necessarily be extended to the private leasing, gastronomy and transportation sector. In this case, the details...

Photo: Ernesto Mastrascusa/EFE.

COVID-19 in Cuba: First two weeks

Solidarity between nations, solidarity between health workers, solidarity among all of us, it is the only way to stop this #COVID-19 pandemic. Twitter message from the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus   The crisis presents dilemmas At this time of crisis, we are facing at least two important options. The first is between the privatized, commercialized and unequal health systems, vs universal and accessible public health. The second is between nationalist isolation and global solidarity. The neoliberal argument that the privatization of health represents greater efficiency, lower public cost and more freedom of choice to consumers has collapsed in the face of hospitals that have crashed, excessive competition for scarce resources and equipment, entire unprotected vulnerable groups, and late response to the crisis. On the other hand, the epidemic itself and the resulting economic crisis are global problems, which can only be solved through global cooperation: countries willing to openly share information, produce and distribute medical equipment, and cooperate with health personnel by helping countries and regions more affected and with fewer resources to face them. In both cases, Cuba is an example, practically silenced in the media. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez. Before the first...

Photo: Kaloian

Cuba: Where are the tourists from?

The popular image of tourism in Cuba is of foreigners who arrive by air or sea to stay in hotels or private homes for rent, or as passengers on board cruise ships. The trips of Cubans residing abroad are not seen as tourism, although in many cases they are, totally or partially. Migration and tourism are the two essential components of the mobility system. Migrations are transfers from the place of residence to live in another place, for a relatively long time. International tourists, like international migrants, cross borders but the intention is not the same: the tourists temporarily leave their principal domicile to go to live elsewhere for a relatively short time. Migrants can become tourists when they temporarily return to their countries of origin. The reasons for traveling to Cuba for these emigrants, in particular, are varied and on multiple occasions comprise visits to family and friends on the island, but there’s also nostalgia tourism, to get to know their roots, to enjoy sun and beach hotels, many times in the company of their relatives in the country. In other cases, visits are associated with resettlement processes, the purchase of properties or investments on the island, and with...

Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

Trump Measures Have Affected the Very Cubans He Meant to Benefit

The 56.6% drop in arrivals of U.S. visitors since the restrictions imposed by the Donald Trump administration in June 2017 boosted a 7% contraction in the total of foreign visitors in the first three months of 2018, according to official Cuban data from last April.1 In 2017, after Obama’s policy of opening, almost 620,000 Americans visited Cuba, six times more than the previous year. Since June 2017, Trump has announced a series of restrictions and policy changes that include: —new regulations to restrict individual, self-directed, people-to-people trips —ban (for U.S. nationals) on making any financial transaction with a group of 180 entities allegedly linked to the Cuban defense, intelligence and security services —forced withdrawal of the majority of the officials of the U.S. Embassy in Havana and, the other way around, of the Cuban Embassy in Washington D.C. —the Travel Warning issued by the Department of State in September 2017, and —the Department of State’s new Travel Advisory system presented in January 2018, which classifies Cuba as a Level 3: “reconsider traveling due to the attacks against the health of the workers of the U.S. Embassy in Havana.” Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.                  ...

Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

Cruise Tourism to Cuba: the Sweet and the Sour

On Friday, April 27, the book Por el Mar de las Antillas: 50 años de turismo de cruceros en el Caribe, by Martha Honey, Jannelle Wilkins, José Luis Perelló and Rafael Betancourt, was presented in Havana. Brought out by the Temas publishing house and available in electronic format on, it is considered the first comprehensive study of cruise tourism, the leisure industry’s sector with the fastest growth. Cruise tourism to Cuba is at its peak: the country has bet on the benefits of cruises as a part of a tourist industry that has catapulted the damaged national economy; the cruise lines have a new market in the Caribbean in their keenness to have an unlimited growth of passengers, ships and profits, and both have escaped “Trump’s rage,” the U.S. president’s measures announced in June 2017 to rollback relations with Cuba which, opportunely, exonerated the cruise and airline companies. International tourism to Cuba has witnessed a sustained growth in the last five years, partly thanks to the measures of the Barack Obama government which in 2015 started relaxing travel to Cuba restrictions for Americans. The growth rate of international visitors in the last three years has been between 14 and...


 哈瓦那是一个不可避免与港湾连接的城市,它曾是殖民时期经济政治和社会生活的中心以及国家最繁华的一部分。我们可以说这也是促使古巴人民奔放,热心和热闹性格有关系。但是,从20世纪90年代开始,哈瓦那港湾和哈瓦那这座城市也经历着变化。 港湾的收复和他的周边不仅在重新定位城市港口的位置和形象,而且也在翻新它最重要的生活中心之一,从一些新的娱乐,文化和商业职能,一些新的公共区和休闲区,以及正在孕育着一个重要经济支撑。两个机构作为指挥:城市历史学办事处(OHC)和哈瓦那国家海湾建设局。 城市历史学办事处关注从海湾入口处直到La Coubre的码头,这其中包括港口大道以及历史中心的海湾前面。第一批重建工作已经结束包括坐落于San Francisco港湾的Sierra Maestra 的航行码头;有着许多个体工艺品买卖的San José仓库文化中心,以及Hines办事处大楼。

Der Umbau der Hafenbucht von Havanna

Havanna ist eine Stadt, die unvermeidlich mit ihrer Hafenbucht verbunden ist, die das Zentrum des wirtschaftlichen, politischen und sozialen Lebens in der Kolonialzeit und einem großen Teil der Republik war. Man könnte behaupten, sie habe dazu beigetragen, den offenen, gastfreundlichen und lebhaften Charakter ihrer Bevölkerung herauszuformen. Aber die Veränderungen, die die Bucht von Havanna seit den 1990er Jahren erlebt, transformieren sie  und mit ihr die Stadt.

The transformation of Havana Bay

Photos: Jorge Laserna Havana is a city inevitably linked to its bay, the center of its economic, political and social life during the colonial period and well into the republican period. You could say that the bay helped form the extroverted, hospitable and boisterous nature of Havana’s residents.  Since the 1990s, however,  both the Bay of Havana and the city are undergoing real transformations.

Mariel is the Key to the Gulf, the Caribbean and America

Centuries ago, when voyagers and geographers ventured to name the island of Cuba the “Key to the Gulf of Mexico”, they never imagined the role that the Bay of Mariel would come to play in the 21st century to justify that designation. Located 28 miles east of Havana, the Port of Mariel is expected to become the most modern and important industrial port in the country and in the Caribbean region.

For Swap… but also for sale

Illustration: Fabián Muñoz In the Cuban comedy Se permuta (ICAIC 1983), by director-screenwriter Juan Carlos Tabío, the memorable Rosita Fornés plays the role of Gloria, a humble seamstress with dreams of getting ahead in life who begins a career as a “permutera”, or real estate agent, by moving from Guanabacoa to El Vedado to take her daughter (Isabel Santos) away from her suitor, a lowly mechanic (Mario Balmaseda), and in the end almost ends up with the mansion that she always dreamed of having.