Cuba in the 21st Century: Papers and abstracts




Cuba in the 21st Century: Papers and abstracts


Professor Carlos Alzugaray Treto

Cuban Foreign Policy in the era of economic reforms

Since 2009, the Cuban leadership, with President Raul Castro leading the way, has been conducting what it has branded as an “updating of the economic model”. Just as the “Doi Moi” process in Vietnam, what has been going on is a profound reform of the whole socialist economic and political system. Although less emphasized inside Cuba and not very much visualized from the outside, Cuba has also been adapting its international relations regime to the transformation of its internal economics and politics. One important factor in this process has to do with the fact that the international political context is very favorable to Havana, which is not the case with the world economic situation, and which has created additional difficulties for the Government. Without abandoning its anti-hegemonic character, Cuban diplomacy has been emphasizing a more pragmatic and economic-oriented foreign policy.


Rafael Hernandez

Cuba: A transition to what?

This paper will examine the  crisis of the Cuban socialist model. It reviews the economic, social, cultural, political changes  from 1990-2010 and asks what the new political consensus is? What are most Cubans concerned about? It identifies eight key issues in the public debate that cope with multiple challenges in developing the policies (and politics) of updating the socialist model. What alternative models for Cuban development are there? How will Cuba be in the next five years? The public and the non-state sectors. The political system. Current trends and future scenarios.


H. Michael Erisman

Brain Drain Politics:  The U.S. CMPP Progremme

The genesis for this paper can be found in my most recent book (co-authored with John Kirk of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia) entitled Cuban Medical Internationalism: Origins, Evolution, and Goals (New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2009).  This book was very well-received by reviewers, but one important unexplored dimension of the topic concerns the dynamic interaction between these international aid programs and the larger arena of US/Cuban relations (i.e., how do these programs impact US/Cuban relations and vice versa?).  This paper seeks to fill that gap, focusing in particular (as indicated in the title) on U.S. CMPP program.

Cuba’s international medical aid programs are more extensive than those of any other country or international organization in the world.  In a typical recent year, Cuba will have approximately 30,000 medical aid personnel dispatched to 75-80 developing nations (primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America).  Washington, fearing that such aid activities will generate increased international political influence (i.e., soft power) for Havana and thereby complicate U.S efforts to bring about regime change there, has responded with its own countermeasures.  The primary U.S. initiative has been the Cuban Medical Professional Parole (CMPP) Program, which is designed to encourage and facilitate defections to the U.S. by Cuban medical personnel assigned to overseas aid missions.  The dynamics and impact of the CMPP program will be the main focus of this paper.

The key components of and main goals to be pursued in this paper are:

  1. Operating within a policy analysis format, which will represent the main thrust of the paper, some of the key questions/issues to be addressed will be:
  • Providing summary background information/data about Cuba’s medical aid programs with respect to the number of personnel involved, the type of personnel involved (e.g., doctors, nurses, technicians, etc.), and their distribution (e.g., countries and regions).  For comparative purposes, similar summary data will be provided regarding U.S. medical aid activities

This component will essentially serve to update the 2008 data used in my 2009 book on Cuban medical internationalism.

  • Providing detailed background information about the formation and operation of Washington’s CMPP program.

Special attention here will be devoted to probing the (U.S.) political dynamics underlying the CMPP program, focusing on such issues as the political variables operating to create/sustain the program and those generating opposition to it.

  • Probing the extent to which the CMPP program has succeeded in persuading Cuban medical internationalists to defect and analyzing the potential variables impacting its performance.

Beyond providing basic empirical information (e.g., number of defectors, percentage defecting, etc.), special attention here will be devoted accessing such “impact variables” as the measures taken by the Cuban government to discourage/prevent defections and the program’s effectiveness in terms of assisting defectors in assimilating into the medical profession in the U.S.

The results of the above (bulleted) research considerations will serve as the foundation for the study’s overall analytical/normative conclusions, which will focus on the following key questions:

  • To what extent has the CMPP initiative been successful in seriously undermining Havana medical aid programs?
  • To what extent has or can the CMPP program negatively impact the larger dynamics of US/Cuban relations (e.g., does it represent a major impediment to improved relations or is it merely a minor irritant)?
  • What implications might the CMPP program have within the larger context of US/Latin American relations?


Ken Cole

Progress in Cuba: The regional dimension

Progress―the evolution of human potentials―advances as human beings’ social intelligence, individual reasoning and human motivation, empathetically adapts to

cooperating within a deepening and expanding division of labour. Twenty-first century globalization heralds such an epochal, communist, transformation in human existence. Such global empathy can only be effected through international social and political change. In this incipient era of global revolution, the options for progressive regionalisms in Latin America are considered. Points in the argument are illustrated in detail, and it is advisable that participants review this presentation on the conference web-site prior to the conference itself.

Conference Presentation 2012 Ken cole


Bernadett Lehoczki

Sino-Cuban relations in the 21st Century

Diplomatic relations were established between Cuba and the People’s Republic of China in 1960, the 50th anniversary of which was celebrated in 2010. In the 1990s, surviving the collapse of the Eastern bloc resulted in a natural alliance.

Their relationship entered a new phase after 2000, characterized by more intense political relations, strengthening trade and investment ties and new initiatives in the field of defence, education, health and culture. This can be evaluated as a result of wider Chinese presence in Latin America and of new quality of relations between Cuba and Latin America.

Diversification of foreign political and economic relations is not a new aspiration of Cuba (and Latin America), but inner (e. g. more pragmatic foreign relations) and outer (e. g. multipolar world order, world economic crisis) factors in the last decade have created an unprecedented possibility to establish a balanced and multi-actor system of foreign relations. China, an outstanding emerging economy, might have an important place in this system as a political ally, an important trading partner, a source of capital and a country that has experiences in implementing market reforms parallel to one-party political system. What role for Chinese connection in implementing successful economic reforms in Cuba?


Stephen Ludlam

Legitimacy and political culture in Cuba’s economic reform strategy

The fundamental claim of Cuba’s political leadership is that only the socialist revolution can preserve the sovereignty of the Cuban state, and thereby secure the social conquests of the Revolution. The current ‘updating’ process, with its core objectives of economic modernization and raising productivity and material well-being, is presented by the Party as essential to the future prospects of the Revolution. The content of the Guidelines on Economic and Social Policy adopted by the Cuban Communist Party’s 6th Congress in 2011 is overwhelmingly concerned with economic policy, and has mainly been discussed as such with discussion of politics mainly focussed on the implications of extended exposure to market forces and private enterprise.  The ‘updating’ process, however, is not only profoundly political in terms of implications for Cuba’s socialist aspirations, but also in terms of issues of state legitimacy at both the mass and leadership levels, issues that may have more influence on the success of the ‘updating’ than planning expertise and company profitability. This paper will discuss the mass political aspects in terms of the public consultation on the Guidelines, and of the implementation of the ‘re-ordering’ of the workforce; and in terms of the severe critique of Cuba’s elite political culture made in President Raúl Castro’s recent keynote speeches, which form part of the context of the unprecedented 2012 Party Conference on the Party’s role in the ‘updating of the Cuban model’.


Emily Morris

Updating the Cuban model:  economic hazards ahead?

Cuba’s ambitious process of updating its economic model will be difficult to manage. Major changes in relative prices, the exchange rate system, the structure of production and system of management will risk inflation, loss of confidence in the currency, economic dislocation and fiscal crisis. Each of these hazards will be examined in turn, in the context of the Cuban model of change, and with reference to the experience of other countries that have undertaken rapid economic reform.


Luis Pérez Simon

Révolución Redux: On the Normative Guidelines and the Theoretical Framework of Cuban Cultural Politics after the VI Cuban Communist Party Conference -An Ideological Debate.

The much awaited transformation -and I shall argue against the use of the term ‘transition’- of the Cuban state under the administration of Raul Castro seems to not only have begun but can now claim to also have a guidebook and a rulebook.  The former, the Lineamientos de la política económica y social del Partido y la Revolución [Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and of the Revolution], and the latter, the report resulting from the Primera Conferencia Nacional [First National Congress] aspire to transform not only the socio-economic model but also the very nature of the Cuban state -if not it’s political structure.  The purpose of this presentation shall be to offer a contextual and close reading of the aforementioned documents -specially those addressing cultural policy- in order to confront these new guidelines to the underlying ideological shifts implied therein.  We hope to bring to the surface the theoretical debates articulated within these recommendations that claim to be a reflection, and indeed to be based upon, official Marxist-Leninist-Martían dogma.