economy, already severely dented by the collapse of the U.S.S.R.,
is being damaged further by the now strengthened U.S. embargo. In
both cases the island is being denied adequate supplies of fuel and
raw materials which are needed to generate the economy. More importantly,
its is barred from obtaining regular provisions of food and clothing.
The seemingly far-fetched Cuban Liberty and Solidarity Act has now
made foreign investors liable to prosecution under United States law.
These occurrences have thrust Cuba into a situation whereby, now more
than ever, they need help from other sources. The latest measure may
also signal additional reforms within the economic sphere.One suggested
step was the establishment of a dual monetary system. This would involve
the use of two currencies: the U.S. dollar and the Cuban peso. The
dollar, to be used by foreign investors, would indicate "that
Cuban is an open economy with an extraordinary dependence on foreign
trade and....foreign currency": the peso would "allow the
government to achieve fiscal stability without an abrupt increase
in unemployment by gradually but firmly decreasing the fiscal deficit..."
(Sanguinetty). For Sanguinetty, monetary dualism
"will allow the design and implement policies that have different
objectives without interfering (with) each other."
suggestion, from Bryan Roberts, has been the establishment of a currency
board in conjunction with rapid price liberalization. However, it
is foreign investment that holds the key to Cuba's economic resuscitation.
As mentioned earlier, foreign capital is necessary to generate employment,
increase local production and develop a strong export sector. On this
basis, it is urgent that current (and potential) foreign investors
establish some sort of solidarity in opposing the Cuban Liberty and
Solidarity Act.Drastic changes may also be required in the social
sector. The trend toward a free market economy and the introduction
of private enterprise are possible indicators that socialism may be
coming to an end in Cuba. Measures will have to be taken to ensure
that the transition to a more capitalist system is smooth. Of course,
there is the current unemployment problem which serves as a source
of discontent, Buttari has suggested public employment programmes
which would include support for economically helpful and community
based self-help projects.Assistance for such programmes should come
from general state services aimed at low income population groups
move towards capitalism may also cause a shift towards a system of
social stratification more in line with other countries in the region.
Will the Cuban people readily accept the three tiered system lower,
middle and upper class with all its inequalities? What will be their
attitude towards the possible return of the "Miami Cubans"?
To what extent would some of these Cuban-Americans look to regain
lost property and prestige? These are questions that will have to
be considered, if a process of democratization is instituted.United
States policy towards Cuba is also in dire need of being revamped.
One new trend of thought is that U.S. policy in evaluating a Cuban
transition must have political rather than economic considerations.
This proposal would include the guarantees of rights to free speech
and freedom of association, the freedom of movement, the release of
all political prisoners and the right to free and fair elections.
In 1994, Fekete and Reich proposed a four step plan whereby American
policy would serve to guide Cuba into into a "new era" (Cuba
Transition Guide, 1995). The first stage would involve the
settlements of claims and assets plus the repeal of the U.S. embargo
as it was at the time. The second and third steps would feature the
negotiation and conclusion of a Bilateral Framework Agreement while
the last part of the plan would feature the return of Cuba into the
regional economic arena (Fekete and Reich, 1994).
It is now uncertain if both the United States and Cuba will chart
this course.It is up to the Cuban people to decide what kind of future
they want politically. United States policy over the last 35 years
has failed to take into consideration that Cuba is a sovereign country,
governed by an administration that is still very popular at the moment.
There has been no concrete evidence to indicate that resentment towards
Fidel Castro is as widespread as to induce fears of his overthrow.
In any case, such an event would only lead to instability - the very
antithesis of foreign investment. What is really needed presently
is the assistance of other, sympathetic, members of the international
community in guiding Cuba along the tough road that lies ahead.