In This Review

Reaching Out: Cuba’s New Economy and the International Response
Reaching Out: Cuba’s New Economy and the International Response
By Richard Feinberg
Brookings Institution, 2011, 102 pp

Cuba has turned. It is recharting its future. Feinberg’s lucid, succinct report describes the Cuban economy’s self-defeating distortions and President Raúl Castro’s economic reforms, which are vague and short on specifics but authorize a market economy that many other Cuban leaders still distrust. Last April, the Cuban Communist Party adopted the reforms, and their significance and reach have since become clear, as new markets for real estate and cars have emerged. Feinberg analyzes Cuba’s receptiveness to assistance from Canada and Europe and its “emerging-market strategy’’ of making economic deals with Brazil, China, Russia, and Venezuela. He also provides apt comparisons between Cuba and two developing countries, Nicaragua and Vietnam, that have engaged with the world market and the United States while still retaining a marked measure of independence. In a thought-provoking chapter, he argues that international financial institutions should engage with Cuba, as should the U.S. government, thereby “nudging history forward in Cuba.” Ultimately, though, only Cubans can make their own history, even if they cannot make it just as they please -- as Karl Marx would have told those Cubans who still claim to rule according to his vision.