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Resources for Teaching
Cristina Garcia's
Dreaming in Cuban

Author Interviews and Resources

 
The Atlantic: The Nature of Inheritance Interview with Cristina Garcia

An Interview with Christina Garcia

Booking Christina Garcia for a Speaking Engagement

 NPR Interview: “Ellis Island,” which Includes Cristina Garcia

“Connecting with hyphenated heritage Cuban novelist's visit helps some students find themselves”
 

Dreaming in Cuban Essays and Resources

MELUS Essay: “From alienation to reconciliation in the novels of Cristina Garcia”
Havana Journal Article on "How Dreaming in Cuban Arose from Cuban Roots"
Time Magazine Article on Dreaming in Cuban
"Absent Fathers and Lost Lovers: The Romance of Conquest in Margarita Engle's Skywriting and Cristina Garcia's Dreaming in Cuban"
"National Families and Familial Nations: Communista Americans in Cristina Garcia's Dreaming in Cuban"
Questions for Dreaming in Cuban & Other Latino Works on Revolutions
"Women and the Revolution in Cristina Garcia's Dreaming in Cuban"
“A Wounded Discourse: The Politics of Disease in Cristina Garcia’s Dreaming in Cuban”
 

Resources on Cuban Americans and Cuba

“Discourses on/of Nostalgia: Cuban America’s Real and Fictional Geographies”
“Hybrid Selves, Hybrid Narratives: The Case of Caribbean Latina Fiction”
Cuban American National Council
NPR Piece: "Many Cuban-Americans are Anti-Embargo"
NPR Piece: U.S.-Cuba Relationship Hasn't Always Been Bitter
"The Tyrant is Dying: No More Conga Lines" by Carlos Eire
 

 

 
Books by Cristina Garcia & About Cuba/Cuban Americans
  From Library Journal
Garcia's first novel is about Cuba, her native country, and three generations of del Pino women who are seeking spiritual homes for their passionate, often troubled souls. Celia del Pino and her descendants also share clairvoyant and visionary powers that somehow remain undiminished, despite the Cuban revolution and its profound effect upon their lives. This dichotomy suffuses their lives with a potent mixture of superstition, politics, and surrealistic charm that gives the novel an otherworldly atmosphere. Garcia juggles these opposing life forces like a skilled magician accustomed to tossing into the air fiery objects that would explode if they came into contact. Writing experimentally in a variety of forms, she combines narratives, love letters, and monologs to portray the del Pinos as they move back and forth through time. Garcia tells their story with an economy of words and a rich, tropical imagery, setting a brisk but comfortable pace. Highly recommended.  Janet W. Reit, Univ. of Vermont Lib., Burlington
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
  From Booklist
*Starred Review* Birds grace the pages of Garcia's most transfixing and moving novel to date, emblems of transcendence and hope in defiance of the gravity of fate. As in her earlier novels, including Monkey Hunting (2003), Garcia writes from several points of view as she tells unpredictably linked stories of people in flight from oppression during the 1970s and 1980s.
  From Library Journal
Highly recommended.
From Booklist
Gorgeously detailed and entrancingly told, erotic, mystical, and wise, Garcia's bittersweet saga of a family of remarkable individuals spans a century of displacement, war, and sacrifice, and a world of forbearance and love. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
 
From Library Journal
Long-time Cuban expert Perez (history, Univ. of North Carolina) has written an important and groundbreaking historical study of Cuban culture from 1850 through the Cuban revolution in 1959. An important book on Cuba that will be of interest in most academic and large public library collections. Mark L. Grover, Brigham Young Univ. Lib., Provo, UT
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From The New Yorker
At the start of the nineteen-sixties, an operation called Pedro Pan flew more than fourteen thousand Cuban children out of the country, without their parents, and deposited them in Miami. Eire, now a professor of history and religion at Yale, was one of them. His deeply moving memoir describes his life before Castro, among the aristocracy of old Cuba—his father, a judge, believed himself to be the reincarnation of Louis XVI—and, later, in America, where he turned from a child of privilege into a Lost Boy. Eire's tone is so urgent and so vividly personal (he is even nostalgic about Havana's beautiful blue clouds of DDT) that his unsparing indictments of practically everyone concerned, including himself, seem all the more remarkable.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

Other Resources

Films About Latino Immigration
Try the FREE surname search at the Origins Network and trace your origins online
For those who want to search family history:
OneGreatFamily
Information on cost and process for getting a green card through a site:
Review Lottery.
 

U.S. Department of State Profile on Cuba

Geography
Area: 110,860 sq. km. (44,200 sq. mi.); about the size of Pennsylvania.
Cities: Capital--Havana (pop. 2 million). Other major cities--Santiago de Cuba, Camaguey, Santa Clara, Holguin, Guantanamo, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Pinar del Rio.
Terrain: Flat or gently rolling plains, hills; mountains up to 2,000 meters (6,000 ft.) in the southeast.
Climate: Tropical, moderated by trade winds; dry season (November-April); rainy season (May-October).

People
Population: 11 million; 70% urban, 30% rural.
Ethnic groups: 51% mulatto, 37% white, 11% black, 1% Chinese (according to Cuban census data).
Language: Spanish. Literacy--97% (according to Cuban government sources).
Work force (4.6 million): Government and services--30%; industry--22%; agriculture--24%; commerce--11%; construction--11%; transportation and communications--6%.

Government
Type: Totalitarian Communist state; current government assumed power by force January 1, 1959.
Independence: May 20, 1902.
Political party: Cuban Communist Party (PCC); only one party allowed.
Administrative subdivisions: 14 provinces, including the city of Havana, and one special municipality (Isle of Youth).

Economy
GDP (2005 est.): Purchasing power parity--$37.24 billion.
Real annual growth rate; 3.0% (2001); 1.1% (2002); 1.3% (2003); 3.0% (2004 est.); 5.0% (2005 est.).
GDP per capita income (based on purchasing power parity): $3,300 (2005 est.).
Natural resources: Nickel, cobalt, iron ore, copper, manganese, salt, timber, oil, natural gas.
Agriculture: Products--sugar, citrus and tropical fruits, tobacco, coffee, rice, beans, meat, vegetables.
Industry: Types--sugar and food processing, oil refining, cement, electric power, light consumer and industrial products, pharmaceutical and biotech products.
Trade: Exports--$1.999 billion f.o.b. (2005): nickel/cobalt, pharmaceutical and biotech products, sugar and its byproducts, tobacco, seafood, citrus, tropical fruits, coffee. Major markets (2005)--Netherlands $599.7 million (30%); Canada $437.9 (22%); Venezuela $241 million (12%); Spain $161.2 million (8%); China $99.6 million (5%); Russia $57.6 million (3%); France $49.3 million (2%); others $352.5 million (18%). Imports --$7.528 billion f.o.b. (2005): petroleum, food, machinery, chemicals. Major suppliers (2005)--Venezuela $1.859 billion (25%); China $885.4 million (12%); Spain $653.3 (9%); United States $470.3 (9%); Canada $327.9 million (4%); Brazil $312.4 million (4%); Germany $309.3 million (4%); Italy $292 million (4%); Mexico (4%); Vietnam $251.8 (3%); others (25%).
Official exchange rate: Convertible pesos per U.S.$1 = 0.93.
Cuba has two currencies in circulation: the Cuban peso (CUP), and the convertible peso (CUC). In April 2005, the official exchange rate changed from $1 per CUC to $1.08 per CUC (0.93 CUC per $1), both for individuals and enterprises. Individuals can buy 24 Cuban pesos (CUP) for each CUC sold, or sell 25 Cuban pesos for each CUC bought; enterprises, however, must exchange CUP and CUC at a 1:1 ratio. It is also important to note that the Cuban regime taxes and receives approximately 10% of each conversion of U.S. dollars into CUCs.

PEOPLE AND RELIGION
Cuba is a multiracial society with a population of mainly Spanish and African origins. The largest organized religion is the Roman Catholic Church, but evangelical protestant denominations continue to grow rapidly. Afro-Cuban religions, a blend of native African religions and Roman Catholicism, are widely practiced in Cuba. Officially, Cuba has been an atheist state for most of the Castro era. In 1962, the government of Fidel Castro seized and shut down more than 400 Catholic schools, charging that they spread dangerous beliefs among the people. In 1991, however, the Communist Party lifted its prohibition against religious believers seeking membership, and a year later the constitution was amended to characterize the state as secular instead of atheist.

While the Cuban constitution recognizes the right of citizens to freedom of religion, the government de facto restricts that freedom. Twenty-two denominations, including Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Methodists, are members of the Cuban Council of Churches (CCC). Most CCC members are officially recognized by the State, though several, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church, are not registered and are recognized only through their membership in the CCC. Another 31 officially recognized denominations, including Jehovah's Witnesses and the small Jewish community, do not belong to the CCC. The government does not favor any one particular religion or church; however, the government appears to be most tolerant of those churches that maintain close relations to the State through the CCC. Unregistered religious groups experience various degrees of official interference, harassment, and repression. The Ministry of Interior engages in active efforts to control and monitor the country's religious institutions, including through surveillance, infiltration and harassment of religious professionals and practitioners. The most independent religious organizations--including the Catholic Church, the largest independent institution in Cuba today--continue to operate under significant restrictions and pressure imposed on them by the Cuban regime. The Cuban Government continues to refuse to allow the church to have independent printing press capabilities; full access to the media; to train enough priests for its needs or allow adequate numbers of foreign priests to work in the country; or to establish socially useful institutions, including schools and universities, hospitals and clinics, and nursing homes. All registered denominations must report to the Ministry of Interior's Office of Religious Affairs.

The visit of Pope John Paul II in January 1998 was seen as an important, positive event for bringing a message of hope and the need for respect of human rights. Unfortunately, these improvements did not continue once the Pope left the island. While some visas were issued for additional priests to enter Cuba around the time of the visit, the regime has again sharply restricted issuance of visas. Moreover, despite explicit regime guarantees and repeated follow-up requests, the regime has refused to permit the Catholic Church to establish Internet connections or an intranet among dioceses on the Island. In a pastoral letter entitled "There is No Country Without Virtue" ("No Hay Patria Sin Virtud"), the Cuban Conference of Catholic Bishops in February 2003 openly criticized the government's strict control over the activities of the Catholic Church, especially state restrictions on religious education and Church access to mass media, as well as the increasingly amoral and irreligious character of Cuban society under Communist rule.

Other Cuban religious groups--including evangelical Christians, whose numbers continue to grow rapidly--also have benefited from the relative relaxation of official restrictions on religious organizations and activities. Although particularly hard hit by emigration, Cuba's small Jewish community continues to hold services in Havana and has members in Santiago, Camaguey, and other parts of the island. See also the Department's report on international religious freedom for further information.

HISTORY
Spanish settlers established the raising of cattle, sugarcane, and tobacco as Cuba's primary economic pursuits. As the native Indian population died out, African slaves were imported to work the ranches and plantations. Slavery was abolished in 1886.

Cuba was the last major Spanish colony to gain independence, following a lengthy struggle begun in 1868. Jose Marti, Cuba's national hero, helped initiate the final push for independence in 1895. In 1898, the United States entered the conflict after the USS Maine sank in Havana Harbor on February 15 due to an explosion of undetermined origin. In December of that year, Spain relinquished control of Cuba to the United States with the Treaty of Paris. On May 20, 1902, the United States granted Cuba its independence but retained the right to intervene to preserve Cuban independence and stability in accordance with the Platt Amendment. In 1934, the Platt Amendment was repealed. The United States and Cuba concluded a Treaty of Relations in 1934 which, among other things, continued the 1903 agreements that leased the Guantanamo Bay naval base to the United States.

Independent Cuba was often ruled by authoritarian political and military figures who either obtained or remained in power by force. Fulgencio Batista, an army sergeant, organized a non-commissioned officer revolt in September 1933 and wielded significant power behind the scenes until he was elected president in 1940. Batista was voted out of office in 1944 and did not run in 1948. Both those elections were won by civilian political figures with the support of party organizations. Running for president again in 1952, Batista seized power in a bloodless coup 3 months before the election was to take place, suspended the balloting, and began ruling by decree. Many political figures and movements that wanted a return to the government according to the Constitution of 1940 disputed Batista's undemocratic rule.

On July 26, 1953, Fidel Castro, who had been involved in increasingly violent political activity before Batista's coup, led a failed attack on the Moncada army barracks in Santiago de Cuba in which more than 100 died. After defending himself in a trial open to national and international media, he was convicted and jailed, and subsequently was freed in an act of clemency, before going into exile in Mexico. There he organized the "26th of July Movement" with the goal of overthrowing Batista, and the group sailed to Cuba on board the yacht Granma, landing in the eastern part of the island in December 1956.

Batista's dictatorial rule fueled increasing popular discontent and the rise of many active urban and rural resistance groups, a fertile political environment for Castro's 26th of July Movement. Faced with a corrupt and ineffective military--itself dispirited by a U.S. Government embargo on weapons sales to Cuba--and public indignation and revulsion at his brutality toward opponents, Batista fled on January 1, 1959. Although he had promised a return to constitutional rule and democratic elections along with social reforms, Castro used his control of the military to consolidate his power by repressing all dissent from his decisions, marginalizing other resistance figures, and imprisoning or executing thousands of opponents. An estimated 3,200 people were executed by the Castro regime between 1959-62 alone. As the revolution became more radical, hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled the island.

Castro declared Cuba a socialist state on April 16, 1961. For the next 30 years, Castro pursued close relations with the Soviet Union and worked in concert with the geopolitical goals of Soviet communism, funding and fomenting violent subversive and insurrectional activities, as well as military adventurism, until the demise of the U.S.S.R. in 1991.

Relations between the United States and Cuba deteriorated rapidly as the Cuban regime expropriated U.S. properties and moved toward adoption of a one-party communist system. In response, the United States imposed an embargo on Cuba in October 1960, and, in response to Castro's provocations, broke diplomatic relations on January 3, 1961. Tensions between the two governments peaked during the October 1962 missile crisis.

GOVERNMENT
Cuba is a totalitarian state controlled by Fidel Castro, who is chief of state, head of government, First Secretary of the PCC, and commander in chief of the armed forces. Castro seeks to control most aspects of Cuban life through the Communist Party and its affiliated mass organizations, the government bureaucracy, and the state security apparatus. In March 2003, Castro announced his intention to remain in power for life. The Ministry of Interior is the principal organ of state security and control.

According to the Soviet-style Cuban constitution of 1976, the National Assembly of People's Power, and its Council of State when the body is not in session, has supreme authority in the Cuban system. Since the National Assembly meets only twice a year for a few days each time, the 31-member Council of State wields power. The Council of Ministers, through its 9-member executive committee, handles the administration of the economy, which is state-controlled except for a tiny and shriveling open-market sector. Fidel Castro is President of the Council of State and Council of Ministers and his brother Raul serves as First Vice President of both bodies as well as Minister of Defense.

Although the constitution theoretically provides for independent courts, it explicitly subordinates them to the National Assembly and to the Council of State. The People's Supreme Court is the highest judicial body. Due process is routinely denied to Cuban citizens, particularly in cases involving political offenses. The constitution states that all legally recognized civil liberties can be denied to anyone who opposes the "decision of the Cuban people to build socialism." Citizens can be and are jailed for terms of 3 years or more for simply criticizing the communist system or Fidel Castro.

The Communist Party is constitutionally recognized as Cuba's only legal political party. The party monopolizes all government positions, including judicial offices. Though not a formal requirement, party membership is a de facto prerequisite for high-level official positions and professional advancement in most areas, although a tiny number of non-party members have on extremely rare occasions been permitted by the controlling Communist authorities to serve in the National Assembly. The Communist Party or one of its front organizations approves candidates for any elected office. Citizens do not have the right to change their government. In March 2003, the government carried out one of the most brutal crackdowns on peaceful opposition in the history of Cuba when it arrested 75 human rights activists, independent journalists and opposition figures on various charges, including aiding a foreign power and violating national security laws. Authorities subjected the detainees to summary trials and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from 6 to 28 years. Amnesty International identified all 75 as "prisoners of conscience." The European Union (EU) condemned their arrests and in June 2003, it announced its decision to implement the following actions: limit bilateral high-level governmental visits, reduce the profile of member states' participation in cultural events, reduce economic assistance and invite Cuban dissidents to national-day celebrations. See also the Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Cuba.

Although the constitution allows legislative proposals backed by at least 10,000 citizens to be submitted directly to the National Assembly, in 2002 the government rejected a petition known as the Varela Project, supporters of which submitted 11,000 signatures calling for a national referendum on political and economic reforms. Many of the 75 activists arrested in March 2003 participated in the Varela Project. In October 2003, Project Varela organizers submitted a second petition to the National Assembly with an additional 14,000 signatures. Since April 2004, some prisoners of conscience have been released, seven of whom were in the group of 75; all suffered from moderate to severe medical conditions and many of them continue to be harassed by state security even after their release from prison. Moreover, in response to a planned protest by activists at the French Embassy in Havana in late July 2005, Cuban security forces detained 33 opposition members, three of whom had been released on medical grounds. At least 16 other activists were either arrested or sentenced to prison since 2004 for opposing the Cuban Government. There has also been a resurgence of harassment of various activist groups, most notably the "Damas en Blanca," a group of wives of political prisoners.

On July 31, 2006 the Castro regime announced a "temporary" transfer of power from Fidel Castro to his brother Raul, who until that time served as head of the Cuban armed forces and second-in-command of the government and the Communist Party. It was the first time in the 47 years of Fidel Castro’s rule that power had been transferred. The transfer took place due to intestinal surgery of an undetermined nature.

NATIONAL SECURITY
Under Castro, Cuba is a highly militarized society. From 1975 until the late 1980s, massive Soviet military assistance enabled Cuba to upgrade its military capabilities and project power abroad. The tonnage of Soviet military deliveries to Cuba throughout most of the 1980s exceeded deliveries in any year since the military build-up during the 1962 missile crisis.

With the loss of Soviet-era subsidies in the early 1990s, Cuba's armed forces have shrunk considerably, both in terms of numbers and assets. Combined active duty troop strength for all three services is estimated at 50,000 to 55,000 personnel (compared to some 235,000 on active duty 10 years ago) and much of Cuba's weaponry appears to be in storage. Cuba's air force, once considered among the best equipped in Latin America, no longer merits that distinction, though it still possesses advanced aircraft and weapons systems; the navy has become primarily a coastal defense force with no blue water capability. The Cuban army is still one of the region's more formidable, but it also is much reduced and no longer has the considerable resources necessary to project power abroad.

The military plays a growing role in the economy and manages a number of hotels in the tourist sector. The country's two paramilitary organizations, the Territorial Militia Troops and the Youth Labor Army, have a reduced training capability. Cuba also adopted a "war of the people" strategy that highlights the defensive nature of its capabilities. The government continues to maintain a large state security apparatus under the Ministry of Interior to repress dissent within Cuba, and in the last decade has formed special forces units to confront indications of popular unrest.

ECONOMY
The Cuban Government continues to adhere to socialist principles in organizing its state-controlled economy. Most of the means of production are owned and run by the government and, according to Cuban Government statistics, about 75% of the labor force is employed by the state. The actual figure is closer to 93%, with some 150,000 small farmers and another 150,000 "cuentapropistas," or holders of licenses for self-employment, representing a mere 2.1% of the nearly 4.7 million-person workforce.

The Cuban economy is still recovering from a decline in gross domestic product of at least 35% between 1989 and 1993 as the loss of Soviet subsidies laid bare the economy's fundamental weaknesses. To alleviate the economic crisis, in 1993 and 1994 the government introduced a few market-oriented reforms, including opening to tourism, allowing foreign investment, legalizing the dollar, and authorizing self-employment for some 150 occupations. These measures resulted in modest economic growth; the official statistics, however, are deficient and as a result provide an incomplete measure of Cuba's real economic situation. Living conditions at the end of the decade remained well below the 1989 level. Lower sugar and nickel prices, increases in petroleum costs, a post-September 11, 2001 decline in tourism, devastating hurricanes in November 2001 and August 2004, and a major drought in the eastern half of the island caused severe economic disruptions. Growth rates continued to stagnate in 2002 and 2003, while 2004 and 2005 showed some renewed growth. Moreover, the gap in the standard of living has widened between those with access to dollars and those without. Jobs that can earn dollar salaries or tips from foreign businesses and tourists have become highly desirable. It is not uncommon to see doctors, engineers, scientists, and other professionals working in restaurants or as taxi drivers.

Castro’s regime has pulled back on earlier market reforms and is seeking tighter state control over the economy. The Cuban Government is aggressively pursuing a policy of recentralization, making it increasingly difficult for foreigners to conduct business on the island. Likewise, Cuban citizens are adversely affected by reversion to a peso economy.

Prolonged austerity and the state-controlled economy's inefficiency in providing adequate goods and services have created conditions for a flourishing informal economy in Cuba. As the variety and amount of goods available in state-run peso stores has declined, Cubans have turned increasingly to the black market to obtain needed food, clothing, and household items. Pilferage of items from the work place to sell on the black market or illegally offering services on the sidelines of official employment is common, and Cuban companies regularly figure 15% in losses into their production plans to cover this. Recognizing that Cubans must engage in such activity to make ends meet and that attempts to shut the informal economy down would be futile, the government concentrates its control efforts on ideological appeals against theft and shutting down large organized operations. A report by an independent economist and opposition leader speculates that more than 40% of the Cuban economy operates in the informal sector. Since 2005, the government has carried out a large anti-corruption campaign as it continues efforts to recentralize much of the economy under the regime's control.

Sugar, which has been the mainstay of the island's economy for most of its history, has fallen upon troubled times. In 1989, production was more than 8 million tons, but by the mid-1990s, it had fallen to around 3.5 million tons. Inefficient planting and cultivation methods, poor management, shortages of spare parts, and poor transportation infrastructure combined to deter the recovery of the sector. In June 2002, the government announced its intention to implement a "comprehensive transformation" of this declining sector. Almost half the existing sugar mills were closed, and more than 100,000 workers were laid off. The government has promised that these workers will be "retrained" in other fields, though it is unlikely they will find new jobs in Cuba's stagnant economy. Moreover, despite such efforts, the sugar harvest continued to decline, falling to 2.1 million tons in 2003, the smallest since 1933. The harvest was not much better in 2004, with 2.3 million tons, and even worse in 2005, with 1.3 million tons.

In the mid-1990s, tourism surpassed sugar as the primary source of foreign exchange. Tourism figures prominently in the Cuban Government's plans for development, and a top official cast it as at the "heart of the economy." Havana devotes significant resources to building new tourist facilities and renovating historic structures for use in the tourism sector. Roughly 1.7 million tourists visited Cuba in 2001, generating about $1.85 billion in gross revenues; in 2003, the number rose to 1.9 million tourists, predominantly from Canada and the European Union, generating revenue of $2.1 billion. The number of tourists to Cuba in 2004 crossed the 2 million mark (2.05 million), including the so-called "medical tourists" from other Latin American countries seeking free medical treatment at Cuban facilities. In 2005 the number of tourists increased to 2.32 million.

Nickel is now the biggest earner among Cuba's goods exports. The nickel industry has been operating close to full capacity and therefore currently stagnant, but it is benefiting from unprecedented increases in world market prices. Revenues have more than doubled from $450 million in 2001 to $1 billion in 2005. The government is making attempts to increase extraction capacity.

Remittances also play a large role in Cuba's economy. Cuba does not publish accurate economic statistics, but academic sources estimate that remittances total from $600 million to $1 billion per year, with most coming from families in the United States. U.S. regulation changes announced in June 2004 allow remittances to be sent only to the remitter's immediate family; they cannot be remitted to certain Cuban Government officials and members of the Cuban Communist party; and the total amount of family remittances that an authorized traveler may carry to Cuba is now $300, reduced from $3,000. (See also the Commission on Assistance to a Free Cuba report at www.cafc.gov, cited below.) The Cuban Government captures these dollar remittances by allowing Cuban citizens to shop in state-run "dollar stores," which sell food, household, and clothing items at a high mark-up averaging over 240% of face value.

Beginning in November 2004, Castro mandated that U.S. dollars be exchanged for "convertible pesos"--a local currency that can be used in special shops on the island but has no value internationally--for a 10% charge. The 10% conversion fee disproportionately affects Cubans who receive remittances from relatives in the U.S.

To help keep the economy afloat, Cuba has actively courted foreign investment, which often takes the form of joint ventures with the Cuban Government holding half of the equity, management contracts for tourism facilities, or financing for the sugar harvest. A new legal framework laid out in 1995 allowed for majority foreign ownership in joint ventures with the Cuban Government. In practice, majority ownership by the foreign partner is nonexistent. Of the 540 joint ventures formed since the Cuban Government issued the first legislation on foreign investment in 1982, 397 remained at the end of 2002, and 287 at the close of 2005. Due in large part to Castro’s recentralization efforts, it is estimated that one joint venture and two small cooperative production ventures have closed each week since 2000. Responding to this decline in the number of joint ventures, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Investment explained that foreign investment is not a pillar of development in and of itself. Moreover, the hostile investment climate, characterized by inefficient and overpriced labor imposed by the communist government, dense regulations, and an impenetrable bureaucracy, continue to deter foreign investment. Foreign direct investment flows decreased from $448 million in 2000 to $39 million in 2001 and were at zero in 2002. In July 2002, the European Union, through its embassies in Havana, transmitted to the Cuban Government a document that outlined the problems encountered in operating joint ventures in Cuba. Titled "The Legal and Administrative Framework for Foreign Trade and Investment by European Companies in Cuba," the paper noted the difficulty in obtaining such basic necessities as work and residence permits for foreign employees--even exit visas and drivers licenses. It complained that the Government of Cuba gave EU joint venture partners little or no say in hiring Cuban staff, often forced the joint venture to contract employees who were not professionally suitable, and yet reserved to itself the right to fire any worker at any time without cause. It noted administrative difficulties in securing financing and warned that "the difficulties of state firms in meeting their payment obligations are seriously threatening some firms and increasing the risk premium which all operators have to pay for their operations with Cuba." The Cuban Government offered no response.

Investors are also constrained by the U.S.-Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act that provides sanctions for those who "traffic" in property expropriated from U.S. citizens. More than a dozen companies have pulled out of Cuba or altered their plans to invest there due to the threat of action under the Libertad Act.

In an attempt to provide jobs for workers laid off due to the economic crisis and bring some forms of black market activity into more controllable channels, the Cuban Government in 1993 legalized self-employment for some 150 occupations. This small private sector is tightly controlled and regulated. Set monthly fees must be paid regardless of income earned, and frequent inspections yield stiff fines when any of the many self-employment regulations are violated. Rather than expanding private sector opportunities, in recent years, the government has been attempting to squeeze more of these private sector entrepreneurs out of business and back to the public sector. Many have opted to enter the informal economy or black market, and others have closed. These measures have reduced private sector employment from a peak of 209,000 to less than 100,000 now. Moreover, a large number of those people who nominally are self-employed in reality are well-connected fronts for military officials. No recent figures have been made available, but the Government of Cuba reported at the end of 2001 that tax receipts from the self-employed fell 8.1% due to the decrease in the number of these taxpayers. Since October 1, 2004, the Cuban Government no longer issues new licenses for 40 of the approximately 150 categories of self-employment, including for the most popular ones, such as private restaurants.

In June 2005, 2,000 more licenses were revoked from self-employed workers as a means to reassert government control over the economy and to stem growing inequalities associated with self-employment. The licenses for self-employed workers were typically for service-oriented work, allowing the Cuban people to eke out a small living in an otherwise impoverished state. Moreover, workers in Cuba’s tourist sector--at resorts where native Cubans are prohibited unless they are on the job--have been prohibited by a Ministry of Tourism regulation from accepting gifts, tips, or even food from foreigners, in a further attempt at increasing the tourist apartheid that exists on the island.

A 2004 UN Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) report recommends that Cuba "redesign the parameters of competition in the public, private and cooperative sectors [and] redefine the role of the state in the economy." It recommends more flexibility in self-employment regulations, property diversification, economic decentralization, and a role for the market. The Cuban Government, however, is today reversing the economic liberalization of the 90s and re-centralizing its economy. Evidence of this is found in the decline in the number of firms participating in the perfeccionamiento empresarial, or entrepreneurial improvement (EI), program, which is based on capitalist management techniques. EI was instituted in the 1980s as a military-led pilot project, and in 1998, the Cuban Government extended it from military to civilian "parastatals," reportedly to foster capitalist competitiveness. At first, the government highlighted participating companies' achievements in cutting costs and boosting profitability and quality and suggested that the increased autonomy of state managers under EI was producing an efficient form of socialism with a strong link between pay and performance. However, many in the Communist Party, even Castro himself, resisted EI. Many of the original participants have since left the program and participating firms have seen little growth in revenue. The EI program has fallen far short of expectations and the Cuban Government no longer heralds its successes or its future prospects. In 2003 the Cuban Government also tightened foreign exchange controls, requiring that state companies hold money in convertible pesos and obtain special authorization from the central bank before making hard currency transactions. Practically speaking, this restricted companies from using the dollar for internal trade. Following this, in 2004 the government announced that all state entities must stop charging in U.S. dollars and charge only in pesos for any products and services not considered a part of a company’s "fundamental social objective." It also recently implemented new requirements to channel imports through monopolistic Soviet-style wholesale distribution companies.

Cuba's precarious economic position is complicated by the high price it must pay for foreign financing. The Cuban Government defaulted on most of its international debt in 1986 and does not have access to credit from international financial institutions like the World Bank, which means Havana must rely heavily on short-term loans to finance imports, chiefly food and fuel. Because of its poor credit rating, an $11 billion hard currency debt, and the risks associated with Cuban investment, interest rates have reportedly been as high as 22%. In 2002, citing chronic delinquencies and mounting short-term debts, Moody's lowered Cuba's credit rating to Caa1 -- "speculative grade, very poor." Dunn and Bradstreet rate Cuba as one of the riskiest economies in the world.

HUMAN RIGHTS
Cuba’s totalitarian regime controls all aspects of life through the Communist Party (CP) and its affiliated mass organizations, the government bureaucracy and the Department of State Security. The latter is tasked with monitoring, infiltrating and tormenting the country’s beleaguered human rights community. The government continues to commit serious abuses, and denies citizens the right to change their government.

The government incarcerates people for their peaceful political beliefs or activities. The total number of political prisoners and detainees is unknown, because the government does not disclose such information and keeps its prisons off-limits to human rights organizations. As of July 1, 2006, at least 316 Cubans were being held behind bars for political crimes, according to the independent Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation.

The government places severe limitations on freedom of speech and press. Reporters Without Borders calls Cuba the world’s second biggest jailer of journalists. The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press insofar as they "conform to the aims of a socialist society." The government considers the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and foreign mainstream magazines and newspapers to be enemy propaganda. Access to the Internet is strictly controlled and given only to those deemed ideologically trustworthy.

Freedom of assembly is not a right in today’s Cuba. The law punishes any unauthorized assembly of more than three persons. The government also restricts freedom of movement and prevents some citizens from emigrating because of their political views. Cubans need explicit "exit permission" from their government to leave their country, and many people are effectively held hostage by the Cuban government, despite the fact that they have received travel documents issued by other countries.

The government does not tolerate dissent. It targets dissenters by directing militants from the CP, the Communist Youth League, Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, the Federation of Cuban Women, the Association of Veterans of the Cuban Revolution, and other groups to stage a public protest against the dissenter, usually in front of his/her house. These protests, called "acts of repudiation," involve the shouting of insults and the occasional use of violence. The events generate intense fear and are aimed at ostracizing and intimidating those who question the government’s policies.

Prison conditions are harsh and life-threatening. Although physical torture is rare, cruel treatment of prisoners – particularly political prisoners and detainees – is common. Prison authorities frequently beat, neglect, isolate and deny medical treatment to inmates. Authorities often deny family visits, adequate nutrition, exposure to sunshine, and pay for work. Overcrowding is rife. Inmates friendly with prison guards often receive preferential treatment. This leads to abuse, whereby connected inmates assault others with impunity. Desperation inside the country’s estimated 200 prisons and work camps is at high levels and suicides and acts of self-mutilation occur. Thousands of Cubans are currently imprisoned for "dangerousness," in the absence of any crime.

Worker rights are largely denied. The law does not allow Cuban workers to form and join unions of their choice. The government-approved unions do not act as trade unions, promote worker rights or protect the right to strike; rather, they are geared toward ensuring that production goals are met. Some workers lose their jobs because of their political beliefs. Salaries are not high enough to meet food and clothing costs; consequently, many Cubans are forced into small-scale embezzlement or pilfering from their employers.

FOREIGN RELATIONS
Cuba's once-ambitious foreign policy has been scaled back and redirected as a result of economic hardship and the end of the Cold War. Cuba aims to find new sources of trade, aid, and foreign investment and to promote opposition to U.S. policy, especially the trade embargo and the 1996 Libertad Act. Cuba has relations with over 160 countries and has civilian assistance workers--principally physicians and nurses--in more than 20 nations.

Since the end of Soviet backing, Cuba appears to have largely abandoned monetary support for guerrilla movements that typified its involvement in regional politics in Latin America and Africa, though it maintains relations with several guerrilla and terrorist groups and provides refuge for some of their members in Cuba. Cuba's support for Latin guerrilla movements, its Marxist-Leninist government, and its alignment with the U.S.S.R. led to its isolation in the hemisphere. Cuba is a member of the Organization of American States (OAS), although its present government has been excluded from participation since 1962 for incompatibility with the principles of the inter-American system. Cuba hosted the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in September 2006 and will hold the NAM presidency until 2009. In the context of the NAM and its ordinary diplomacy, Cuba has developed friendly relations with Iran, North Korea and other rogue states.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Cuba expanded its military presence abroad, spending millions of dollars in exporting revolutions; deployments reached 50,000 troops in Angola, 24,000 in Ethiopia, 1,500 in Nicaragua, and hundreds more elsewhere. In Angola, Cuban troops, supported logistically by the U.S.S.R., backed the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in its effort to take power after Portugal granted Angola its independence. Cuban forces played a key role in Ethiopia's war against Somalia and remained there in substantial numbers as a garrison force for a decade. Cubans served in a non-combat advisory role in Mozambique and the Congo. Cuba also used the Congo as a logistical support center for Cuba's Angola mission. In the late 1980s, Cuba began to pull back militarily. Cuba unilaterally removed its forces from Ethiopia, met the timetable of the 1988 Angola-Namibia accords by completing the withdrawal of its forces from Angola before July 1991, and ended military assistance to Nicaragua following the Sandinistas' 1990 electoral defeat.

EU-Cuban diplomatic relations have suffered as a result of the March 2003 crackdown on dissidents. In June 2004, EU members imposed restrictive measures on Cuba including inviting dissidents to national day celebrations and suspending high-level meetings between EU members and the Cuban Government. In January 2005, though, the restrictions were suspended in an effort to re-engage the regime as a means of advancing the EU’s policy of encouraging reform while preparing for the transition.

Spain is among the most important foreign investors in Cuba. The ruling Zapatero government continues Spain’s longstanding policy of encouraging further investment and trade with Cuba. Cuba imports more goods from Spain (almost 13% of total imports) than from any other country. Spanish economic involvement with Cuba is exclusively centered on joint venture enterprises that provide financial benefit to the Cuban Government through state-owned firms. Spain’s desire to provide support to its business community often impedes its willingness to pressure the Cuban Government on political reform and human rights issues.

Cuba’s bilateral relationship with Venezuela has helped keep the Cuban economy afloat. The "Integral Cooperation Accord" signed by Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in October 2000 laid the groundwork for a quasi-barter exchange of Venezuelan oil for Cuban goods and services that has since become a lifeline for Cuba. For Cuba, the benefits of the cooperation accord are subsidized petroleum and increased hard currency flows. The original agreement allowed for the sale, at market prices, of up to 53,000 barrels per day of crude oil and derivatives (diesel, gasoline, jet fuel, etc.) by PDVSA, Venezuela's state-owned petroleum company, to its Cuban counterpart, CUPET. The number of barrels of oil Venezuela began selling to Cuba has risen to over 90,000 barrels daily. Under the accord, PDVSA extended preferential payment terms to CUPET, including 90-day short-term financing instead of the 30 days offered to its other customers and, in lieu of a standard letter of credit backed by an international bank, PDVSA accepted IOUs from Cuba's Banco Nacional, the central banking entity responsible for servicing Havana's foreign debt. In August 2001, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez amended the 2000 accord to allow Venezuela to compensate the Cuban Government in hard currency for any and all Cuban products and services originally intended as in-kind payment for Venezuelan oil. As a result, Cuban exports of goods and services to Venezuela climbed from $34 million in 2001 to more than $150 million in 2003. Venezuelan ministries are contracting with Cuba for everything from generic pharmaceuticals to pre-fabricated housing and dismantled sugar mill equipment. On April 28, 2005, Chavez and Castro signed 49 economic agreements in Havana, covering areas as diverse as oil, nickel, agriculture, furniture, shoes, textiles, toys, lingerie, tires, construction materials, electricity, transportation, health, and education. Venezuela is also committed to sending more than $400 million in various products duty free to Cuba and plans to open an office of state-owned commercial Venezuelan Industrial Bank (BIV) in Havana to finance imports and exports between the two countries, while Cuba will open an official Banco Exterior de Cuba in Caracas. Increased economic engagement along with the rapid growth in Cuban sales to Caracas has established Venezuela as one of the island's largest export markets.

A series of recent economic agreements between Cuba and China have strengthened trade between the two countries. Sino-Cuban trade totaled more than $525 million in 2004, according to China Customs statistics. This represents an increase of more than 47% over 2003. Most of China’s aid involves in-kind supply of goods or technical assistance. During President Hu-Jintao’s visit to Cuba in November 2004, China signed investment-related memorandums of understanding (MOUs) estimated at more than $500 million, according to press reports. If these MOUs are fully realized, they would represent a sharp increase in known Chinese investments in Cuba. In addition to these MOUs, a number of commercial accords were signed at the first-ever Cuba-China Investment and Trade Forum. China also plans to invest approximately $500 million in a nickel operation in Moa in the eastern province of Holguin. According to the MOU, Cuba will own 51% of the enterprise and Chinese-owned Minmetals the remaining 49%. Chinese and Venezuelan economic support, including investment and direct aid, have given Cuba the space to eliminate many of the tentative open market reforms Cuba put in place during the depth of its mid-1990s economic crisis.

The Russian prime minister visited Cuba in October 2006, signaling a new effort to expand trade and investment, albeit financed by Russian credit. Russia set aside, for the moment, more than USD 20 billion in Soviet-era debt, restructured post-1991 debt, and extended a new credit line to Cuba. The new credit line is for USD 355 million repayable over 10 years at an interest rate of five percent. The new credit is conditioned in that it must be used to purchase Russian cars, trucks, planes, as well as to finance Cuban energy and transport infrastructure projects, including air navigation systems. Russia further agreed to restructure USD 166 million in debt accumulated since 1993. Both nations also signed an agreement on military equipment and technical services.

 

U.S.-CUBAN RELATIONS
On May 20, 2002, President Bush announced the Initiative for a New Cuba that called on the Cuban Government to undertake political and economic reforms and conduct free and fair elections for the National Assembly. The Initiative challenged the Cuban Government to open its economy, allow independent trade unions, and end discriminatory practices against Cuban workers. President Bush made clear that his response to such concrete reforms would be to work with the U.S. Congress to ease the restrictions on trade and travel between the United States and Cuba. The Cuban Government did not enact any such reforms. Instead, elections for the National Assembly were held in January 2003, with 609 government-approved candidates running for 609 seats. That was followed by the March crackdown on members of civil society.

In October 2003, President Bush then created the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba to help the Cuban people achieve the goal of a rapid, peaceful transition to democracy that is strongly supportive of fundamental political and economic freedoms. Its mandate is to identify additional measures to help bring an end to the dictatorship and to lay out a plan for effective and decisive U.S. assistance to a post-dictatorship Cuba, should such be requested by a free Cuba. The commission report outlines how the United States would be prepared to help a free Cuba improve infrastructure and the environment; consolidate the transition and help build democracy; meet the basic needs of the Cuban people in health, education, housing, and social services; and create the core institutions of a free economy. These recommendations are not a prescription for Cuba’s future, but an indication of the kind of assistance the United States and the international community should be prepared to offer a free Cuba.

The commission also sought a more proactive, integrated, and disciplined approach to undermine the survival strategies of the Castro regime and contribute to conditions that will help the Cuban people hasten the dictatorship’s end. The recommendations focus on actions available to the United States Government, allowing it to establish a strong foundation on which to build supportive international efforts. This comprehensive framework is composed of six interrelated tasks considered central to hastening change: empowering Cuban civil society; breaking the Cuban Government’s information blockade on the Cuban people; denying resources to the regime; illuminating the reality of Castro’s Cuba to the rest of the world; encouraging international diplomatic efforts to support Cuban civil society and challenge the Castro regime; and finally, undermining the regime’s "succession strategy."

The Commission released its latest report in July 2006 (www.cafc.gov) as well as the "Compact with the Cuban People." The Compact with the Cuban People is a message of hope from the United States to the people of Cuba and a clear statement of principles to reassure Cubans that the U.S. stands with them in their desire for freedom.

The Second Report of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba (CAFC II) sets forth specific assistance and programs the United States can offer to advance freedom and democracy in Cuba. The recommendations include $80 million over the next two fiscal years, to support these activities. Over the past decade, the regime has built an apparatus designed to exploit humanitarian aspects of U.S. policy, specifically to siphon off hundreds of millions of dollars for itself. To deny resources to the regime, U.S. law enforcement authorities have been directed to conduct "sting" operations against "mule" networks and others who illegally carry money and to offer rewards to those who report on illegal remittances that lead to enforcement actions; family visits to Cuba have been limited to one trip every 3 years under a specific license (individuals are eligible to apply for a specific license 3 years after their last visit to Cuba); and the current authorized per diem amount (the authorized amount allowed for food and lodging expenses for travel in Cuba) has been reduced from $164 per day to $50 per day (i.e., approximately eight times what a Cuban national would expect to earn during a 14-day visit) for all family visits to Cuba, based on the presumption that travelers will stay with family in Cuba.

U.S. policy also pursues a multilateral effort to press for democratic change by urging its friends and allies to actively promote a democratic transition and respect for human rights. The United States opposes consideration of Cuba's return to the OAS or inclusion in the Summit of the Americas process until there is a democratic Cuban Government. The United States has repeatedly made clear, however, that it is prepared to respond reciprocally if the Cuban Government initiates fundamental, systematic, democratic change and respect for human rights.

All U.S. travel to Cuba must be licensed by the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), and must fall into one of ten categories. Further information on the licensing process can be obtained from OFAC or at their website. All exports to Cuba must also be licensed by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). Further information on exports to Cuba can be found at the BIS website.

Principal U.S. Interests Section Officials
Chief of Mission--Michael E. Parmly
Deputy Chief of Mission--Buddy Williams
Political/Economic Counselor--Robert Blau
Consul General--Carl Cockburn
Public Affairs Officer--David McCawley (acting)
Management Officer--William Rada

The U.S. Interests Section is located at Calzada between L & M Streets, Vedado, Havana, switchboard: (53-7) 33-3551-3559, fax/general: 33-3700. U.S. Information Service: 33-3967 fax: 33-3869, hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Emergencies/after hours: 33-3026.

TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans traveling and residing abroad through Consular Information Sheets, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings. Consular Information Sheets exist for all countries and include information on entry and exit requirements, currency regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. Public Announcements are issued to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov. For additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Travel/International.shtml.

The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens who traveling or residing abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security conditions.

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov

Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help with the export process, and more.

STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from the Federal government. The site includes current and historical trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities, and country analysis and provides access to the National Trade Data Bank.

 

CIA World Factbook on Cuba

Background:
Definition Field Listing
The native Amerindian population of Cuba began to decline after the European discovery of the island by Christopher COLUMBUS in 1492 and following its development as a Spanish colony during the next several centuries. Large numbers of African slaves were imported to work the coffee and sugar plantations, and Havana became the launching point for the annual treasure fleets bound for Spain from Mexico and Peru. Spanish rule, marked initially by neglect, became increasingly repressive, provoking an independence movement and occasional rebellions that were harshly suppressed. It was US intervention during the Spanish-American War in 1898 that finally overthrew Spanish rule. The subsequent Treaty of Paris established Cuban independence, which was granted in 1902 after a three-year transition period. Fidel CASTRO led a rebel army to victory in 1959; his iron rule has held the regime together since then. Cuba's Communist revolution, with Soviet support, was exported throughout Latin America and Africa during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The country is now slowly recovering from a severe economic recession in 1990, following the withdrawal of former Soviet subsidies, worth $4 billion to $6 billion annually. Cuba portrays its difficulties as the result of the US embargo in place since 1961. Illicit migration to the US - using homemade rafts, alien smugglers, air flights, or via the southwest border - is a continuing problem. The US Coast Guard intercepted 2,810 individuals attempting to cross the Straits of Florida in fiscal year 2006.
   Geography    Cuba  
Location:
Definition Field Listing
Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, 150 km south of Key West, Florida
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
21 30 N, 80 00 W
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Central America and the Caribbean
Area:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 110,860 sq km
land: 110,860 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly smaller than Pennsylvania
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 29 km
border countries: US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay 29 km
note: Guantanamo Naval Base is leased by the US and remains part of Cuba
Coastline:
Definition Field Listing
3,735 km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate:
Definition Field Listing
tropical; moderated by trade winds; dry season (November to April); rainy season (May to October)
Terrain:
Definition Field Listing
mostly flat to rolling plains, with rugged hills and mountains in the southeast
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Pico Turquino 2,005 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
cobalt, nickel, iron ore, chromium, copper, salt, timber, silica, petroleum, arable land
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 27.63%
permanent crops: 6.54%
other: 65.83% (2005)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
8,700 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
the east coast is subject to hurricanes from August to November (in general, the country averages about one hurricane every other year); droughts are common
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
air and water pollution; biodiversity loss; deforestation
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
party to: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
largest country in Caribbean and westernmost island of the Greater Antilles
   People    Cuba  
Population:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
11,394,043 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 18.8% (male 1,100,672/female 1,042,327)
15-64 years: 70.5% (male 4,019,648/female 4,016,429)
65 years and over: 10.7% (male 554,043/female 660,924) (2007 est.)
Median age:
Definition Field Listing
total: 36.3 years
male: 35.7 years
female: 37 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
0.273% (2007 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
11.44 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
7.14 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
-1.57 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.056 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.001 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.838 male(s)/female
total population: 0.992 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 6.04 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.76 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.26 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total population: 77.08 years
male: 74.85 years
female: 79.43 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.6 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
less than 0.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
3,300 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality:
Definition Field Listing
noun: Cuban(s)
adjective: Cuban
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
mulatto 51%, white 37%, black 11%, Chinese 1%
Religions:
Definition Field Listing
nominally 85% Roman Catholic prior to CASTRO assuming power; Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, and Santeria are also represented
Languages:
Definition Field Listing
Spanish
Literacy:
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97%
male: 97.2%
female: 96.9% (2003 est.)
People - note:
Definition Field Listing
illicit emmigration is a continuing problem; Cubans attempt to depart the island and enter the US using homemade rafts, alien smugglers, direct flights, or falsified visas; Cubans also use non-maritime routes to enter the US including direct flights to Miami and over-land via the southwest border
   Government    Cuba Top of Page
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: Republic of Cuba
conventional short form: Cuba
local long form: Republica de Cuba
local short form: Cuba
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
Communist state
Capital:
Definition Field Listing
name: Havana
geographic coordinates: 23 08 N, 82 22 W
time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
14 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 1 special municipality* (municipio especial); Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Cienfuegos, Ciudad de La Habana, Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin, Isla de la Juventud*, La Habana, Las Tunas, Matanzas, Pinar del Rio, Sancti Spiritus, Santiago de Cuba, Villa Clara
Independence:
Definition Field Listing
20 May 1902 (from Spain 10 December 1898; administered by the US from 1898 to 1902); not acknowledged by the Cuban Government as a day of independence
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Triumph of the Revolution, 1 January (1959)
Constitution:
Definition Field Listing
24 February 1976; amended July 1992 and June 2002
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
based on Spanish civil law and influenced by American legal concepts, with large elements of Communist legal theory; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage:
Definition Field Listing
16 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
chief of state: President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers Fidel CASTRO Ruz (prime minister from February 1959 until 24 February 1976 when office was abolished; president since 2 December 1976); First Vice President of the Council of State and First Vice President of the Council of Ministers Gen. Raul CASTRO Ruz (since 2 December 1976); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers Fidel CASTRO Ruz (prime minister from February 1959 until 24 February 1976 when office was abolished; president since 2 December 1976); First Vice President of the Council of State and First Vice President of the Council of Ministers Gen. Raul CASTRO Ruz (since 2 December 1976)
cabinet: Council of Ministers proposed by the president of the Council of State and appointed by the National Assembly or the 31-member Council of State, elected by the Assembly to act on its behalf when it is not in session
elections: president and vice presidents elected by the National Assembly for a term of five years; election last held 6 March 2003 (next to be held in 2008)
election results: Fidel CASTRO Ruz reelected president; percent of legislative vote - 100%; Raul CASTRO Ruz elected vice president; percent of legislative vote - 100%
note: due to an ongoing health problem, Fidel CASTRO Ruz provisionally transferred power to his brother Gen. Raul CASTRO Ruz on 31 July 2006 in accordance with the Cuban Constitution; Fidel CASTRO has not yet reclaimed control of the government
Legislative branch:
Definition Field Listing
unicameral National Assembly of People's Power or Asemblea Nacional del Poder Popular (609 seats, elected directly from slates approved by special candidacy commissions; members serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 19 January 2003 (next to be held in 2008)
election results: percent of vote - PCC 97.6%; seats - PCC 609
Judicial branch:
Definition Field Listing
People's Supreme Court or Tribunal Supremo Popular (president, vice president, and other judges are elected by the National Assembly)
Political parties and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
Cuban Communist Party or PCC [Fidel CASTRO Ruz, first secretary]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
NA
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
ACP, FAO, G-77, IAEA, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), IPU, ISO, ITU, LAES, LAIA, NAM, OAS (excluded from formal participation since 1962), OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
none; note - Cuba has an Interests Section in the Swiss Embassy, headed by Principal Officer Dagoberto RODRIGUEZ Barrera; address: Cuban Interests Section, Swiss Embassy, 2630 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009; telephone: [1] (202) 797-8518; FAX: [1] (202) 797-8521
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
none; note - the US has an Interests Section in the Swiss Embassy, headed by Principal Officer Michael E. PARMLY; address: USINT, Swiss Embassy, Calzada between L and M Streets, Vedado, Havana; telephone: [53] (7) 833-3551 through 3559 (operator assistance required); FAX: [53] (7) 833-3700; protecting power in Cuba is Switzerland
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
five equal horizontal bands of blue (top, center, and bottom) alternating with white; a red equilateral triangle based on the hoist side bears a white, five-pointed star in the center
   Economy    Cuba  
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
The government continues to balance the need for economic loosening against a desire for firm political control. It has rolled back limited reforms undertaken in the 1990s to increase enterprise efficiency and alleviate serious shortages of food, consumer goods, and services. The average Cuban's standard of living remains at a lower level than before the downturn of the 1990s, which was caused by the loss of Soviet aid and domestic inefficiencies. Since late 2000, Venezuela has been providing Cuba oil on preferential terms, and it currently supplies about 98,000 barrels per day of petroleum products. Cuba has been paying for the oil, in part, with the services of Cuban personnel, including some 20,000 medical professionals. In 2006, high metals prices continued to boost Cuban earnings from nickel and cobalt production. Havana continued to invest in the country's energy sector to mitigate electrical blackouts that have plagued the country since 2004.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$44.54 billion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
Definition Field Listing
$40 billion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
7.5% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$3,900 (2006 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 5.1%
industry: 27.2%
services: 67.6% (2006 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
4.82 million
note: state sector 78%, non-state sector 22% (2006 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 20%
industry: 19.4%
services: 60.6% (2005)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.9% (2006 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
5% (2006 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
11.9% of GDP (2006 est.)
Budget:
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $35.07 billion
expenditures: $36.41 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2006 est.)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
sugar, tobacco, citrus, coffee, rice, potatoes, beans; livestock
Industries:
Definition Field Listing
sugar, petroleum, tobacco, construction, nickel, steel, cement, agricultural machinery, pharmaceuticals
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
17.6% (2006 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
15.34 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
14.1 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2004)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2004)
Oil - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
72,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
204,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA bbl/day
Oil - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA bbl/day
Oil - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
259 million bbl (2006 est.)
Natural gas - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
704 million cu m (2004)
Natural gas - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
704 million cu m (2004)
Natural gas - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
70.79 billion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)
Current account balance:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$-1.218 billion (2006 est.)
Exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$2.956 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
sugar, nickel, tobacco, fish, medical products, citrus, coffee
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Netherlands 25.8%, Canada 21.1%, China 10%, Spain 6.8% (2005)
Imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$9.51 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
petroleum, food, machinery and equipment, chemicals
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
China 14.5%, Spain 13.7%, Canada 8.4%, US 8.3%, Germany 7.2%, Brazil 5.6%, Italy 5.6%, Mexico 5.1%, Japan 4% (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$2.618 billion (2006 est.)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$15.15 billion (convertible currency); another $15-20 billion owed to Russia (2006 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
$68.2 million (1997 est.)
Currency (code):
Definition Field Listing
Cuban peso (CUP) and Convertible peso (CUC)
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
Convertible pesos per US dollar - 0.9231 (2006)
note: Cuba has three currencies in circulation: the Cuban peso (CUP), the convertible peso (CUC), and the US dollar (USD), although the dollar is being withdrawn from circulation; in April 2005 the official exchange rate changed from $1 per CUC to $1.08 per CUC (0.93 CUC per $1), both for individuals and enterprises; individuals can buy 24 Cuban pesos (CUP) for each CUC sold, or sell 25 Cuban pesos for each CUC bought; enterprises, however, must exchange CUP and CUC at a 1:1 ratio.
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
calendar year
   Communications    Cuba  
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
849,900 (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
134,500 (2005)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
general assessment: greater investment beginning in 1994 and the establishment of a new Ministry of Information Technology and Communications in 2000 has resulted in improvements in the system; wireless service is expensive and remains restricted to foreigners and regime elites, many Cubans procure wireless service illegally with the help of foreigners
domestic: national fiber-optic system under development; 85% of switches digitized by end of 2004; telephone line density remains low, at less than 10 per 100 inhabitants; domestic cellular service expanding
international: country code - 53; fiber-optic cable laid to but not linked to US network; satellite earth station - 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region)
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
AM 169, FM 55, shortwave 1 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
58 (1997)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
.cu
Internet hosts:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2,234 (2006)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
190,000
note: private citizens are prohibited from buying computers or accessing the Internet without special authorization; foreigners may access the Internet in large hotels but are subject to firewalls; some Cubans buy illegal passwords on the black market or take advantage of public outlets to access limited email and the government-controlled "intranet" (2005)
   Transportation    Cuba  
Airports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
170 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 78
over 3,047 m: 7
2,438 to 3,047 m: 9
1,524 to 2,437 m: 18
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 37 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 92
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 29
under 914 m: 62 (2006)
Pipelines:
Definition Field Listing
gas 49 km; oil 230 km (2006)
Railways:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 4,226 km
standard gauge: 4,226 km 1.435-m gauge (140 km electrified)
note: an additional 7,742 km of track is used by sugar plantations; about 65% of this track is standard gauge; the rest is narrow gauge (2005)
Roadways:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 60,858 km
paved: 29,820 km (includes 638 km of expressway)
unpaved: 31,038 km (1999)
Waterways:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
240 km (2005)
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 11 ships (1000 GRT or over) 33,932 GRT/48,791 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 2, cargo 2, chemical tanker 1, passenger 1, petroleum tanker 3, refrigerated cargo 2
foreign-owned: 1 (Spain 1)
registered in other countries: 17 (Bahamas 1, Cyprus 2, Netherlands Antilles 1, Panama 11, Spain 1, unknown 1) (2006)
Ports and terminals:
Definition Field Listing
Cienfuegos, Havana, Matanzas
   Military    Cuba Top of Page
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR): Revolutionary Army (ER), Revolutionary Navy (Marina de Guerra Revolucionaria, MGR), Revolutionary Air and Air Defense Force (DAAFAR), Youth Labor Army (EJT) (2007)
Military service age and obligation:
Definition Field Listing
17 years of age; both sexes are eligible for military service (2004)
Manpower available for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 17-49: 2,967,865
females age 17-49: 2,913,559 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 17-49: 2,441,927
females age 17-49: 2,396,741 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males age 18-49: 91,901
females age 18-49: 87,500 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
3.8% (2006 est.)
Military - note:
Definition Field Listing
Moscow, for decades the key military supporter and supplier of Cuba, cut off almost all military aid by 1993
   Transnational Issues    Cuba  
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay is leased to US and only mutual agreement or US abandonment of the area can terminate the lease
Trafficking in persons:
Definition Field Listing
current situation: Cuba is a source country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced child labor; Cuba is a major destination for sex tourism, which largely caters to European, Canadian, and Latin American tourists and involves large numbers of minors; there are reports that Cuban women have been trafficked to Mexico for sexual exploitation; forced labor victims also include children coerced into working in commercial agriculture
tier rating: Tier 3 - Cuba does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so
Illicit drugs:
Definition Field Listing
territorial waters and air space serve as transshipment zone for US- and European-bound drugs; established the death penalty for certain drug-related crimes in 1999

This segment of the page was last updated on 17 April, 2007

 

 

Copyright 2006 LatinoStories.com design and content by John S. Christie and Jose B. Gonzalez
Copyright 2006 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature, Pearson Education, Inc.
Copyright 2006 Latino Fiction and the Modernist Imagination, John S. Christie
Last Updated:
February 26, 2011

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