Demography and economic geography
Cuba is a state of insular Central America. The population (11,163,934 residents at the 2012 census, 11,258,597 residents according to an estimate by UNDESA, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, of 2014) remains almost unchanged over time, due to the large clandestine migratory flow (mainly directed towards the United States): it is estimated that the number of Cubans who leave the island every year is around 4 residents per thousand. On January 14, 2013, an amendment to the emigration laws came into force, allowing Cuban citizens to leave the country without a permit issued by the authorities, with a series of filters for ‘sensitive’ professions (military, scientists). Among the social services guaranteed by the state, education (free and compulsory from 6 to 15 years) stand out, to which 12.8% of GDP is destined (2010, UNESCO), and the health system, with 8.8 % of GDP (2013, WHO). The latter, comparable to that of industrialized countries, is based on a high number of family doctors: in 2012 there were about 75. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), results in a high life expectancy (80 and 76 years, respectively women and men, in 2013) and in a low infant mortality rate (5 ‰, in 2013).
Economic conditions. – The country has a decent economy (the second among the Caribbean states), which has its strengths in tourism and emigrant remittances, but the per capita GDP remains among the lowest in the region. Cuba is the sixth largest producer of nickel in the world, while the once dominant sugar production is headed for an irreversible crisis. As for the energy sector, despite the good prospects for the extraction of hydrocarbons, the island is currently largely dependent on imports from Venezuela. In recent years, the government has initiated some historic economic reforms, such as reducing the number of employees in the inefficient state apparatus and the simultaneous development of private initiative, with the granting of licenses to open small businesses. For Cuba economics and business, please check businesscarriers.com.
In 2006, after having alternated, in previous years, limited openings to narrow centralizers, Fidel Castro, now ill, temporarily handed over the presidency to his brother Raúl, Minister of the Armed Forces. Thus began a transition phase that ended in 2008, when the National Assembly ratified the election of Raúl as the new president of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers. In 2013 he was reconfirmed in these positions and announced that at the end of his mandates, in 2018, he would not reappear.
From April 2011, the new president inaugurated a phase of economic reforms which, while not calling the socialist system into question, cautiously opened up to the market. Thus, citizens were gradually granted the possibility to buy and inherit houses, to buy and sell cars, even new ones, to own mobile phones and household appliances without limitations, to privately carry out an extended range of professions, to go abroad without having to apply for visas. many expensive. At the end of 2013, the process of abolishing the dual monetary currency was started, and, in the following March, measures were approved aimed at attracting foreign capital, reducing the taxation on the profits of foreign companies. In the field of civil rights,
Despite these reforms and the release, between 2010 and 2011, of all the “prisoners of conscience” arrested in 2003, the criticism of opponents of the regime continued, mainly due to temporary detentions to which they were often subject: the case that involved the arrest of blogger Yoani Sánchez, for example, became known around the world. In terms of foreign policy, in addition to the privileged relationship with Venezuela – the first commercial partner and the main supplier of the island’s energy resources – institutionalized in ALBA (Alianza Bolivariana paralos Pueblos de Nuestra América), ties with China were strengthened.
Relations with the EU improved, which in 2008 abolished the sanctions against Cuba imposed five years earlier, relations with the United States also began to relax after the election of Barack Obama. direct remittances and restrictions on travel to the island, the historic turning point of December 17, 2014 was reached – also thanks to the mediation of Pope Francis – when a series of thaw measures were launched, including the exchange of prisoners. Noting the failure of the US policy against Cuba, Obama also stated his intention to start the process parliamentarian for the abolition of the embargo imposed by the United States on the island for decades, and condemned since 1992 by the UN. The two countries also announced that they wanted to re-establish diplomatic relations: this commitment was honored with the opening of each other’s embassies – previously simple offices of interest – on 20 July 2015. In May, Cuba was also canceled from the list of the sponsoring countries of terrorism.
In June 2009, without any request from Cuba, the OAS (Organization of American States) revoked the suspension of the country, in force since 1962, however asking for more democracy and more respect for human rights. In the same year, as also in 2012, Cuba obtained a seat on the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).