Cuba After Communism

As once-powerful communist rulers flee their presidential palaces and centralized economies give way to free markets, the future of Latin America's last socialist country hangs in the balance. In a fast-paced style that is both technically sophisticated and admirably free of economic jargon, Eliana Cardoso and Ann Helwege provide a much-needed roadmap for a peaceful and productive transition from communism to capitalism. They vividly depict the tough choices facing Cuba in the years ahead, proposing a series of reforms to ease Cuba through a transition to capitalism while preserving some legitimate gains - such as those in education and health care - that socialism has provided the Cuban people.The authors begin with the crux of Cuba's predicament: it is an overly centralized single-crop economy that is fast running out of money, and it can no longer depend on privileged trade relations with the former Soviet Union. In this difficult period, Cuba faces the challenge of managing an increasingly chaotic, dysfunctional economy. Is Cuba's transition to capitalism bound to yield another Haiti?Cardoso and Helwege answer with a resounding no. They begin their analysis with a fascinating history of the political roots of Cuba, from Cuban independence after the Spanish-American War to the rise of Castro and the development of a socialist economy. After discussing the various economic alternatives from neighboring countries - models as diverse as those of Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and Chile - the authors present a systematic program to help Cuba prevent economic decline and political chaos, involving rapid privatization and the attraction of foreign investment - while at the same time providing safeguards against the excesses and inequalities endemic to Latin American capitalism.Eliana Cardoso is Associate Professor of Economics at the Fletcher School of Law and Dipolomacy, and Ann Helwege is Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy, both at Tufts University. They are authors of an undergraduate text, Latin America's Economy: Diversity, Trends, and Conflicts.