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Cuban Economic and Social Development: Policy Reforms and Challenges in the Twenty-first Century

In This Review

Cuban Economic and Social Development: Policy Reforms and Challenges in the 21st Century
Edited by Jorge I. Domínguez, Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva
David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, 2012
338 pp. $24.99

In this informative collection, leading Cuban social scientists express their frustration at the slow pace of economic reform, even as they recognize that the magnitude of Cuba’s accumulated problems demands skillful surgery. Pavel Vidal Alejandro expertly unravels the distortions caused by the dual currency system and calls for a gradual transition to a single, devalued Cuban peso. Armando Nova González and Anicia García Alvarez document Cuba’s disastrous agricultural sector and recommend strengthening property rights and creating market incentives to stimulate farm output. Drawing on opinion surveys, one of the book’s editors, Espina Prieto, brilliantly smashes the myth that Cuba is a frozen-in-time society, revealing dynamic social mobility and changing values. Mindful that Cuba is a small island economy, Pérez Villanueva and Pedro Monreal González suggest realistic ways for the country to take better advantage of foreign investment and international value chains. As a whole, the essays in this book suggest that Cuba must replace its stagnant economic management with a more modern regime built around a smarter state, refined regulation, and targeted social welfare programs.

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