In This Review
Are Economic Reforms Propelling Cuba to the Market

Are Economic Reforms Propelling Cuba to the Market

By Carmelo Mesa-Lago

University of Miami, 1994, 84 pp.

This book provides an essential background briefing by one of the leading academic experts on Cuba, and goes a long way toward explaining the dilemmas facing the Cuban government as it struggles to contain the devastating economic impact caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the bankruptcy of Castro's socialist model. Based on a careful assessment of the available statistical data, technical reports by Cuban and foreign experts, many interviews with Cubans on all sides of the political spectrum, and Mesa-Lago's own formidable research over the years, this short book will be greatly appreciated for the richness, comprehensiveness, and confidence of its economic analysis.

As to the key question posed in the title, Mesa-Lago is less certain. "The reform process appears irreversible," Mesa-Lago concludes, but he also clearly lays out the self-defeating contradictions and halfheartedness that permeate many of the Cuban government's measures to confront the economic crisis. It remains far from clear whether Castro's cautious embrace of the capitalist market will be sufficient to extract Cuba from the cul-de-sac in which it finds itself after three and a half decades of communist rule.