Cuba Society and Economy

By | December 16, 2021

Population, society and rights

The Cuban population exceeds 11 million residents. 77% of these live in urban centers and about 25% reside in Havana, the country’s capital and the only city with over two million residents. To date, more than 7400 emigrants have obtained political refugee status in host countries. The U of immigration policy knows stipulates that Cubans who make it to US shores can acquire citizenship.

The Cuban health system is comparable in efficiency to the systems of economically advanced countries. Cuba has invested heavily in recent decades to guarantee basic medical care free of charge to all citizens and spending on health is around 8% of GDPnational. The current health facility, based on the training of a large number of family doctors, was conceived in the 1980s: in 2012 there were about 75,000 doctors, or 6.72 per 1000 residents, one of the highest in the world. translates into a high life expectancy. Furthermore, the Cuban medical specialization in orthopedics and in the treatment of neurological diseases attracts many foreign patients who choose the island’s hospitals, thus contributing to increasing tourism revenues. Since 2008, Raúl Castro has increased the number of Cuban doctors working in neighboring countries (almost half work in Venezuela). In particular, since the summer of 2014, Cuban doctors have increased in the most needy regions of Brazil,Paho). Selling specialized services overseas is a major source of revenue for the government, which expects to steadily raise about $ 8 billion annually through this medium.

Other services guaranteed by the state include education, which is free and compulsory from 6 to 12 years of age, and absorbs resources corresponding to approximately 12.8% of GDP. In the face of such services, however, the Cuban government does not guarantee the population adequate political and civil rights and Cuba cannot be defined as a free country. The media, for example, are controlled by the state, which exercises strong censorship: there are three national newspapers – Granma, Juventud Rebelde and Trabajadores – all belonging to the Communist Party. In terms of freedom of the press, Cuba is the fifth last country in the world; worse than Havana are only Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea and Turkmenistan. Internet access is also severely restricted and controlled. Schools, research institutes, public administration offices are equipped with computers; however, in 2004, the year in which the cabling of the island was completed, only 13 residents out of a thousand had access to the Internet, the use of which is still formally allowed today only for professional needs. However, this prohibition did not prevent the dissemination of some independent blogs that have established themselves as alternative information tools. Among these, the blog ‘Generación Y’ by the journalist Yoani Sánchez, which has millions of contacts all over the world and today represents the best known voice of opposition to the regime. Censorship extends to other forms of communication, from art to music and literature: works judged to be ‘counter-revolutionary’ can cause the author to be arrested. For Cuba democracy and rights, please check

In theory, the fight against corruption is the Cuban government’s priority. Although corruption levels are lower than in many other Latin American countries, the low wages of public officials and the dual currency system, still in place despite recent promises to eliminate it, have led to a rise in it in recent years.. Despite its being an authoritarian one-party system and with at least dubious government legitimacy in the absence of democratic elections, Cuba remains a politically stable state according to the assessments of the Fund for Peace, positioning itself ahead not only of countries like China and Saudi Arabia, also without elections, but also like Russia, where the president is instead chosen by the people.

Economy, energy and environment

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 stole its largest trading partner from Cuba, causing the island’s worst economic crisis since the revolution. Only since 2005 has Cuba recovered to pre-crisis levels, and only at the cost of a vast restructuring of the economic system, which remains centralized and of a planned type. The size of the public sector has progressively decreased from 95% of the total in 1990 to 75% in 2005; to date, spending on this sector constitutes less than 60% of GDP.The liberalization program pursued in recent years by Raúl Castro is starting to give results, allowing the country to increase the size of its economy by relying on the one hand on the extension of both commercial and financial relations with foreign countries and on the other hand on the reduction the weight of the public sector in economic expansion.

Cuba has a relatively large economy (among the top three Caribbean countries although the data available are only partial) with overall GDP growth today at 1.3%, but constantly estimated between 4 and 5% for the next four years; However, the GDP per head of population is among the lowest in the region. The economic structure of the island is dominated by services: the internal ones are concentrated on the welfare state (health and education), exceptionally developed by regional standards. Those aimed abroad are centered, starting from the nineties, on the tourism industry. Tourism and remittances from abroad, although both were hit hard by the global recession of 2009, therefore constitute two key sectors for the economic development of the island (around 7% of GDP). Also for this reason the island was equipped in 1994 with a double currency: the peso and the convertible peso. The convertible peso has a fixed exchange rate linked to the dollar (which in turn circulated until 2004), almost equivalent to parity, and is used for the purchases of luxury products by tourists. The normal weight, on the other hand, is used daily by Cuban citizens. On 22 October 2013, the Cuban government, as part of the structural reforms established in 2011 which intend to decentralize power and partially liberalize the economy, announced the start of the process of unifying the currency and the exchange rate, which it was thought would required about 18 months; in reality,

From an industrial and foreign trade point of view, Cuba is the sixth largest producer of nickel in the world, while sugar production, once dominant, now seems to be heading towards an irreversible crisis. A distinctive feature of the Cuban economy is the importance of undeclared work. Although official unemployment is rather low (3.2% in 2013), the figure hides a strong under-employment, which leads most Cubans to resort to a second job to survive. This is coupled with about a third of the workforce that does not appear in the statistics, because it is considered economically inactive: underemployed and inactive individuals fuel a vast underground economy.

From an energy point of view , the island relies heavily on oil and is largely dependent on foreign imports which, still in 2012, covered more than half of national consumption. The island’s oil production, which in recent years has reached its peak, remains modest and the granting of exploration rights of the territorial sea has not led to the identification of important fields. To make up for the chronic energy shortage, Cuba now relies on Venezuela. The development of renewable sources is almost non-existent on the island with only 0.1% of production in the energy mix.

Cuba Society