Cuba’s Road Ahead

Havana Faces a Challenge, Not a Crisis

A man stands near former Cuban President Fidel Castro's birthplace in Biran, Cuba, December 2016. Ivan Alvarado / Reuters

On November 25, Fidel Castro, the former president of Cuba and communist revolutionary, died at the age of 90. Castro ruled the island, under various titles, for nearly five decades, and his death has prompted speculation on what lies ahead for the country that he did so much to shape. Especially on economic questions, most experts accept the view that Castro’s legacy—that of attempting to build and maintain a centrally planned, socialist economy—is one of failure. Cuba’s only hope for the future, in this view, is to dismantle the existing system and replace it with one oriented toward private businesses and free markets, as did the ex-communist countries of Eastern Europe in the 1990s. This consensus, however, overlooks not only the constraints faced by Cuban policymakers today, but also the country’s history of weathering difficult storms. Cuba faces serious economic challenges, but its system has proved resilient,

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