Friday, November 18, 2011

Freedom House, CDA, and now Brookings: Reaching out to Cuba

The past month has seen the appearance of three special reports from Washington think tanks, all of which recognize the significance (if still the insufficiency) of the economic reforms being implemented over the past year in Cuba.

First was this report from Freedom House, which indicated that Cubans are hopeful about the pace, scope, and direction of reforms to date - likely the most surprising given that institution's regular criticism of the lack of both economic and political freedoms on the island.

Then came a report from The Center for Democracy in the Americas which declared that Cuba's reforms are "real, irreversible, and merit U.S. support.

Finally, today appeared the Brookings report, "Reaching Out: Cuba’s New Economy and the International Response," written by Richard Feinberg, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at that institution.

Both Along the Malecon and Penultimos Dias have already commented on the Brookings report. While I haven't read the entire thing (PDF) yet myself, I have reviewed this executive summary and can say I agree that U.S. policy should be based on empowering the Cuban people (even if it helps the government), rather than punishing the government (even if it harms the people).

Feinberg's findings:

"Development cooperation can achieve results in Cuba, improve the lives of beneficiaries, empower independent small producers, and promote decentralized decision-making to local communities."

Feinberg's advice to the U.S.:
History shows that "promoting economic reform is the most realistic option for advancing political pluralism in Cuba."

Ernesto Hernandez Busto's response to this:
"Hacia China no miren, que al parecer está fuera de la historia." [Don't look at China, which, it seems is not part of history].

These reports have appeared this fall together with a new round of economic reforms on the island itself, including the liberalization of auto sales and real estate among Cuban citizens, the declaration that the experiments with self-emloyment for barbers and beauty salons will now become permanent (more on this from Phil Peters here), and, it seems, new regulations for credit and loans as well as co-operatives.

Lots going on...

Tune in to PRI's The World this afternoon/evening to hear El Yuma discuss some of these reforms and how they are being received by Cuba's barbers and beauticians.

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