Cuba ( Spanish Cuba [ˈkuβa] , official name República de Cuba ) is a real socialist island state in the Caribbean . It is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico to the northwest , the Atlantic Ocean to the northeast and the Caribbean Sea to the south . The capital of the country is Havana , the second largest metropolis in the Caribbean.
When Columbus first discovered the island, it named it Juana after Prince Don Juan . In 1515, his father Fernando II , King of Spain, ordered the renaming to Fernandina , because only one island in the Bahamas (today: Long Island ) had been named after him.
The name "Cuba" probably comes from the language of the Caribs or Taíno . The words coa (= place) and bana (= large) mean something like "large place". Columbus wrote that he landed in a place the indigenous people called Cubao , Cuban or Cibao . These names obviously referred to a mountain region near the landing site in eastern Cuba.
The Cuban writer and etymologist José Juan Arrom described the following word origins in 1964: According to the Arawak language, the term kuba-annakan or cubanacán , which means something like "country or province in the middle", exists . It can thus be assumed with certainty that “Cuba” means something like “country” or “province” in the language of the locals.
The archipelago belongs to the Greater Antilles . In addition to the main island of the same name, Cuba , the largest in the Caribbean , it consists of Isla de la Juventud (formerly Isla de Pinos ) and around 4195 smaller and smaller islands with a total area of 109,884 km².
The maximum extent of the main island is from west (Cabo San Antonio) to east (Punta Maisí) 1250 kilometers. The narrowest north-south extension is 31 kilometers. The distance to the American mainland is 154 kilometers to Key West (USA) and 210 kilometers to Yucatán (Mexico). Since the outlines are reminiscent of a crocodile, Cuba is often referred to as the “green caiman” (Spanish: caimán verde ).
The Cuban wet forests are an ecoregion of tropical rainforests in Cuba and the Isla de la Juventud.
In the southeast of the island, on Guantanamo Bay , is the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base , a naval base of the US Navy. The legal basis is a 1934 treaty , the validity of which is disputed between Cuba and the USA.
Cuba lies in the catchment area of tropical cyclones that form annually from June to November over the Atlantic and in the Caribbean. It is not uncommon for a severe hurricane to hit the Cuban mainland and cause severe devastation, which hits the economically weak Cuba particularly hard. In particular, the mostly lightweight private houses are exposed to strong winds without protection. However, Cuba has a very well functioning civil protection system , so that, in contrast to the neighboring islands, there are seldom a large number of deaths.
The 2008 hurricane season, with three major hurricanes hitting Cuba - Gustav , Ike and Paloma - was one of the worst natural disasters in 50 years. Hundreds of thousands of homes were destroyed, the infrastructure badly damaged and large parts of the crops destroyed. The total damage is estimated at around ten billion US dollars, around twenty percent of Cuban's gross domestic product in 2007. Seven people were killed.
Climate table Cuba (Havana)
Since the administrative reform of 1976 and its amendment that came into force in January 2011, Cuba has been divided into 15 provinces and the Isla de la Juventud Special Administrative Region :
- Isla de la Juventud
- Pinar del Río
- La Habana
- Villa Clara
- Sancti Spiritus
- Ciego de Ávila
- Las Tunas
- Santiago de Cuba
With the exception of the Municipio especial Isla de la Juventud , these provinces are in turn subdivided into a total of 168 Municipios , which roughly correspond to a district in Germany. Usually they are named after the city in which the administrative seat of the municipality is located.
Before the reform of the administrative structure in 1976, there were six provinces in Cuba: Pinar del Río , Havana and Matanzas in the west and Las Villas , Camagüey and Oriente in central and eastern Cuba. The resulting province of La Habana was split into the new provinces of Artemisa and Mayabeque in 2011 . The redistribution of the provinces was part of an administrative reform, which also provides for a clearer division of labor among the Poder Popular and an expansion of the powers of the individual provinces. In addition, the creation of new regional centers was intended to strengthen the sense of belonging among the Cubans living there and to make the quality of government services more efficient.
By far the largest metropolitan area in Cuba and the entire Caribbean is Havana with a population of 2,581,619 (as of January 1, 2005). A quarter of the country's population is thus concentrated in the capital region.
The ten largest cities in Cuba are:
|rank||city||1981 census||1991 census||2012 census||Calculation 2016||province|
|2||Santiago de Cuba||362,400||443.149||431.272||433.099||Santiago de Cuba|
|6th||Santa Clara||175,100||206.996||211,925||216.056||Villa Clara|
|7th||Las Tunas||87,500||129,483||162,957||168,645||Las Tunas|
|10||Pinar del Río||104,600||140.230||142,967||Pinar del Río|
Around 11.24 million people currently live in Cuba (as of 2016), over two million of them in the capital Havana. Overall, 76.8 percent of Cubans live in urban areas. In the past, the island's population grew continuously by one million people per decade. The reasons for the high population growth are the high life expectancy and the low child mortality rate of 4.9 cases per 1000 births . Due to the falling birth rate (1.5 children per woman) and emigration, the population development has now slowed down. The emerging demographic change will set in much more slowly in Cuba than in Germany, for example, where almost 26% of the population are 60 years and older. According to the last census from 2012, the population is 11,167,325 people.
A Spanish law, the Ley de Memoria Histórica (Law of Historical Remembrance) , which benefits children and grandchildren of refugees from the Spanish Civil War , gives 150,000 to 200,000 Cubans the right to Spanish citizenship.
In 2017, 0.1% of the population were migrants. Cuba has one of the lowest proportions of foreigners in the world.
According to the people surveyed in the 2012 census, the Cuban population is divided as follows:
The large regional differences are striking: While an average of 70–80 percent describe themselves as white in the western provinces, the number in the eastern provinces is significantly fewer. In Santiago de Cuba, for example, only 25.6 percent of the population describe themselves as white, 60 percent as mulatto or mestizo and 14.4 percent as black. The picture in Havana is different: 58.4 percent describe themselves as white, 26.6 as mixed and 15.2 percent as black.
Spanish is spoken in Cuba . However, the variant spoken there has some peculiarities to the standard language spoken in Spain and also to the Spanish dialects spoken in the rest of Hispanic America . However, the majority of these varieties can also be found in other Spanish-speaking countries in the Caribbean, particularly in the Dominican Republic , Puerto Rico and the Caribbean coastal areas of Colombia and Venezuela . Minority languages, such as Indian languages , practically do not exist.
The grammatical peculiarity that the language has in common with the rest of Latin America is the use of ustedes (you) as the 3rd person plural instead of vosotros (you - 2nd person plural).
The pronunciation is similar to the other Spanish-speaking countries in the Caribbean and has its historical roots mainly in the regions of Spain from which the first major wave of immigration originated, namely the Canary Islands and southern Spain, and is characterized, among other things, by the so-called Seseo . The different sounds / θ / ( English th ) and / s / are always pronounced like / s / in high Spanish. Swallowing some consonants, such as the / s / at the end of a syllable and word, and the / d / and / b / between vowels is also typical. Also (especially from Eastern Cubans) is often pronounced instead of / r / at the end of the syllable / l /: pue r ta (door) turns into pue l ta and po r favo r (please) to po l favo l .
Cuba’s main religions are Catholicism and Santería , a mixed religion ( syncretism ). It is based on the traditional religion of the West African Yoruba and is heavily mixed with Christian elements. As a non-political and unorganized form of religious practice, the Santería has received state funding for several years. It is estimated that around 35 percent of Cubans are baptized Catholics , including many Santería followers. According to the Vatican, 60 percent of the population are Catholics. The patron saint of Cuba is the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre (Blessed Virgin of El Cobre), who in the Santería also stands for the goddess of rivers and love Ochún .
In addition to the Catholic Church, numerous Cuban Protestant congregations have emerged in recent years , and more than 96,000 Jehovah's Witnesses are now counted. Judaism has existed in Cuba since 1492, and around 1500 Cubans are among them.
Spanish colonial times
Cuba and the Arawak who lived there came under Spanish control in the first half of the 16th century. Within a few decades, the indigenous peoples were practically exterminated by violence and disease. To carry out the very labor-intensive sugar cane cultivation, the Spanish planters used tens of thousands of slaves in the 17th and 18th centuries , most of whom were imported from West Africa .
Struggle for independence
The colony's struggles for independence began in 1868 and continued intermittently until the Spaniards withdrew in 1898 when the United States intervened ( Spanish-American War ).
In the Ten Years' War (1868–1878) and the Little War (1878–1879) for independence, the Cubans had failed. On December 10, 1898, Spain declared in the peace treaty of Paris the renunciation of Cuba and the Philippines . Previously, the Cuban national hero José Martí and the commanders-in-chief Máximo Gómez and Antonio Maceo fought with a very small army against over 200,000 Spaniards in the War of Independence since 1895.
US intervention and sovereignty
The constitution of 1901, which was largely reformed in 1928, established universal male suffrage. After the end of the Spanish-American War, the US occupied the island until it finally achieved formal independence in 1902.
As in other countries, women's suffrage came with a revolution in Cuba : the disempowerment of the dictator Gerardo Machado led to Cuba becoming the fourth Latin American country with women's suffrage. After gaining formal independence, the (provisional) Ley Constitucional of January 2, 1934, provided for universal male suffrage. On February 3, 1934, women's suffrage was included in the provisional constitution. But it was only with the adoption of the 1940 constitution that women's suffrage became effective; the other provisional constitutional texts did not change anything in terms of women's suffrage.
A remnant of the US special rights from the Platt Amendment is the Bahía de Guantánamo (Guantánamo Bay) naval base, which the United States still maintains against the declared Cuban will , whose military prison gained international fame as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 .
In early 1959, the Cuban revolutionaries, led by Fidel and Raúl Castro , Camilo Cienfuegos and the Argentine Ernesto Guevara , known as Che , overthrew the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista and established a socialist state from 1961 (Declaration of Havana) . The associated expropriations of US companies and US citizens led to a permanent embargo by the US and other western states against Cuba. Cuba sought and found support from the socialist states of Eastern Europe, especially the former Soviet Union .
Due to Cuba's strategic location, the conflict between the USA and the USSR escalated in the so-called Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 . Even today Cuba suffers from economic sanctions and is one of the few countries not to be a member of supranational alliances.
With the end of the communist dictatorships in Eastern Europe after the revolutions in 1989 , Cuba's most important trading partners and financiers (the Soviet Union and other Comecon countries) disappeared and Cuba experienced a severe economic crisis in the early 1990s that peaked in 1993. While Cuba had previously sold almost its entire sugar harvest to the socialist states of Eastern Europe and in return obtained two-thirds of its food, almost all of its oil and 80 percent of its machinery and spare parts from there, 85 percent of its foreign trade had suddenly collapsed. Industry and transportation came to a standstill due to a lack of oil, and drastic food rationing led to malnutrition on the island for the first time in many years . In 1992 the government decided to develop the tourism industry to replace the lost foreign trade. Under Carlos Lage's leadership , the economy was decentralized and private business and foreign exchange trading were allowed in certain segments of the economy. Joint venture business in the tourism sector , cooperation with new foreign trade partners (including Spain , Italy , Canada , Brazil , People's Republic of China , Venezuela ), the discovery of new oil deposits and the marketing of important nickel deposits all contributed to the stabilization of the Cuban economy. However, social disparities also arose .
After the reintegration of Cuba into the Caribbean economic area that had become necessary, the hurricanes of 2008 , which coincided with the height of the global economic crisis , made the crisis worse again. The Cuban population has since referred to it as the segunda crisis de los 90 (second crisis of the 90s). Economic reforms announced in 2006 were approved five years later by the Cuban National Assembly as new “guidelines for economic and social policy” (lineamientos de la política económica y social) . In 2012, the supply crisis from around 2008 was overcome. According to the Spiegel correspondent Jens Glüsing, the atmosphere is “more open and relaxed”, and the economic upturn can be felt everywhere. However, inflation-adjusted salaries in 2011 were still only 51% of their 1989 levels.
In May 2013, FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva confirmed in a conversation with Raúl Castro that Cuba had prematurely achieved the goal of halving the number of undernourished people set at the 1996 FAO World Summit in Rome. Cuba is among the 16 countries that have made the most progress in fighting hunger worldwide. However, the opening of the centralized state economy was so cautious that no stimulating effects occurred and the country even found itself in a recession in 2017. The new constitution, which was adopted at the end of February 2019, allowed private property and, to a limited extent, foreign investment.
Politics and state
In political science, Cuba is considered a bureaucratic - authoritarian state. There is in fact no separation of powers here. According to the Marxist-Leninist ideology of the ruling Communist Party of Cuba , this is a positive expression of the dictatorship of the proletariat . Since the population has no choice about possible political alternatives, one can only speculate about the approval rate.
Legislature and Government
Formally the highest ranking and legislative body is the parliament ( Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular ), which elects the Council of State (Consejo de Estado) and the Council of Ministers. In fact, the parliament, which meets only twice a year, has relatively little influence and primarily has the task of approving decisions and formally exonerating the government. Since the introduction of parliament in 1976, with one exception, there has not been a single vote against a draft submitted by the political leadership in any of the many votes on the part of the roughly 600 MPs, even if the new President Raúl Castro uses the unanimous vote common in the Cuban political system Criticized the 2008 programmatic speech as "usually fictional," which he has repeated on several occasions since then. In December 2013, the LGBT activist and president's daughter Mariela Castro voted against the government's draft of a new labor code because she did not see the rights of HIV- infected people and transgender people being adequately recognized.
The actual political decision-making power lies exclusively in the Council of State and Council of Ministers. Since the same people sit on these bodies, who also hold the highest positions in the only authorized Communist Party, the exercise of power is limited to a few people. Their source of legitimacy refers to the Cuban government, especially from a from centuries of foreign domination stemming nationalism and hostility toward the United States, further strengthen this feeling by its embargo and interference policy. The US attempt to build opposition groups immediately exposes critical voices to suspicion of counterrevolution and treason and thus legitimizes their repressive persecution.
Elections take place under the control of the government: The State Council appoints the National Electoral Commission to organize, run and evaluate them, which in turn occupies the electoral commissions of the provinces - a chain of control that extends to the commissions responsible for the individual electoral districts. Any Cuban from the age of 16 can vote ( active suffrage ) and be elected ( passive suffrage ). Members of the National Assembly must be at least 18 years of age. At the lowest level of the municipal parliaments, there are between two and eight candidates for each parliamentary seat. The choice between the candidates takes place in public assemblies organized by the local CDR with a show of hands. For the election of the provincial parliaments and the supreme national assembly, there is exactly one candidate per parliamentary seat. In each case 50 percent are determined by the subordinate people's assembly, the remaining 50 percent are directly elected by the people.
The MPs are selected by a committee of the PCC or the mass organizations. You are not allowed to campaign and have to commit to the socialist system according to the constitution . Only a few basic data of the candidates are given to the voters: name, age, occupation, formal educational level. The proportion of women in the Cuban parliament is 48% in 2014 (2000: 28%), the highest of all countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the Politburo, the highest decision-making body of the Communist Party that sets the political guidelines of the state, one of the 15 at the VI. However, only one woman represented members elected at the 2011 party congress, which corresponds to a percentage of 6.6. About five percent of the votes are regularly marked as white (against all candidates).
For almost 50 years, the revolutionary leader Fidel Castro united the central political offices in his person. Most recently, he was President of the State, Chairman of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers, Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and also Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. On August 1, 2006, he handed over the posts of President of the State Council, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and General Secretary of the Communist Party to his brother Raúl Castro because of a life-threatening bowel disease.
On February 24, 2008, Raúl Castro was elected President of the State and Prime Minister by Parliament and has since followed a line of political continuity while concentrating on measures to remedy the extremely critical economic situation. In April 2011, Raúl Castro also took over the office of General Secretary of the Communist Party. In addition to the change in personnel, some observers also see a change in the system from "charismatic socialism" under Fidel to "bureaucratic socialism" under Raúl Castro, which focuses less on mobilizing the population and promises more administrative efficiency and economic reforms. In 2013 a change of heads of state and government was announced for spring 2018; Raúl Castro would therefore only remain the (powerful) presidium of the CP. After his partial recovery and his declared decision not to return to management responsibility, Fidel Castro occasionally appeared in public again from July 2010 until his death in November 2016.
A new Council of Ministers was appointed in December 2019.
In simple civil and criminal proceedings at the lower levels, lay judges, otherwise professional judges, make up the majority. All judges are elected by the parliament at their respective level. Courts and lawyers are not independent. The Cuban legal system does not correspond to Western standards, especially in political proceedings, but guarantees a functioning judiciary. The highest court is the "Supreme People's Court", whose president is nominated by the chairman of the State Council and elected by the National Assembly. Rubén Remigio Ferro has been President of the Supreme People's Court since 1998 , after having served as its Vice-President since 1997 and previously as a cadre in the Central Committee of the Communist Party and in dependent mass organizations .
The lawyers who provide direct legal assistance to private individuals, d. H. are not employed in government agencies or companies, are organized in Cuba in legal collectives ( Spanish Bufetes Colectivos , 'collective law firms'). These emerged at the beginning of socialist rule at the instigation of lawyers who sympathized with the egalitarian goals of the revolution in order to guarantee public access to legal services. These collectives were institutionalized by a law of 1973, which means that lawyers who are not organized in this way are only able to represent private individuals in exceptional cases. These collectives have a certain organizational independence, but income and expenses are handled centrally by the Organización Nacional de Bufetes Colectivos , which also makes certain administrative requirements. This is headed by elected representatives of the collectives, but is subject to the supervision of the Ministry of Justice . The declared aim of the collective is to contribute to socialist development with their activities, which can conflict with the mandate to represent the interests of the clients. According to a specialist article published in 1998, however, no case is known in which an exclusion from the system of collectives for ideological reasons occurred.
The death penalty only exists formally; it was last pronounced and carried out in 2003 for the armed hijacking of a passenger ferry. At the end of December 2010, Cuba's Supreme Court commuted the final death penalty to prison. Furthermore, the death penalty may not be carried out on persons under the age of 20 or on women who are pregnant at the time of the offense or at the time of the execution of the sentence.
Conditions of detention
The situation in the Cuban prisons is considered unsatisfactory. Political prisoners in particular regularly report unacceptable prison conditions. According to reports from former prison inmates, the most primitive living conditions, denied medical care, solitary confinement, mistreatment and sometimes torture are the order of the day. The government denies international human rights groups and local independent organizations access to the prisons. Although the Cuban government claims that Cuba - apart from the US Guantanamo prison camp - is free from torture , independent observers such as Amnesty International , the International Red Cross or the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture have not been allowed into the country for years to investigate the situation to inspect the prisons.
In May 2012, the Cuban government published an article in the daily Granma for the first time about the total number of inmates: 57,337. This means an extremely high proportion of prisoners in relation to the total population (510 per 100,000), which, according to global comparative studies, is only exceeded by six countries, including the USA and Russia. The government did not give possible reasons for the high number of prisoners; instead, the newspaper article praised the Cuban penal system as exemplary: rehabilitation is a central element of the system. To this end, the government runs programs that enable prison inmates to receive further training, to do sports and to be culturally active. According to government figures, almost half of all prisoners in the country, with around 27,000 prison inmates, took advantage of these educational programs in 2012, with 24,000 attending specialized courses. According to this information, 23,000 inmates also do social work on a voluntary basis. Concerts are also held in the prisons. In 2008, after 49 years of prohibition, the Cuban government approved the holding of Christmas services in several prisons for the first time. Young people between 16 and 18 who commit criminal offenses are only housed in special youth prisons, where they are entitled to education in order to promote their social reintegration. Since 2007, the Cuban government has been investing more heavily in prison infrastructure with the aim of improving prison conditions by 2017.
Communist Party of Cuba (PCC)
According to the constitution, the leading role in the state is assigned to the Communist Party of Cuba (Partido Comunista de Cuba), which it exercises together with the mass organizations. It sees itself as the avant-garde of the Cuban nation. Other parties are not allowed.
The PCC has over 800,000 members. Party affiliation promotes professional and social advancement. Membership in the party is a prerequisite for higher positions in business, the military and the state. On 28/29 January 2012 the 1st National Party Conference of the PCC met in Havana. The conference was based on a draft from October 2011 that had been discussed in over 65,000 meetings of party members. 78 of 96 points were modified and five new points were added to the document. In terms of content, the conference, which turned out to be a continuation of the policy of VI. The party congress understood the future role of the PCC in Cuban society and its internal working style. The more than 800 delegates affirmed their adherence to the one-party system, but at the same time decided to expand internal democracy. It was decided that discrimination based on gender, skin color or religious belief should be combated. In addition, senior government posts are limited to two five-year terms. Raúl Castro explicitly included himself here. In addition, party and government offices will be separated more strongly. The party is supposed to be the political, not the legal, leadership of the country. The media should be provided with more information and the connection with young people strengthened. In the next few years, 20% of the ZK members should make way for young people. The fight was also announced against corruption, which is a much greater enemy for the revolution than acts of sabotage by the USA.
Meetings of People's Power
The parliamentary system in Cuba consists of the so-called Assemblies of People's Power (Asamblea del Poder Popular) . They are divided into three levels: the National Assembly (Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular) , the popular assemblies at the provincial level and at the level of the Municipios (districts). The Cuban government describes the elections as “free, secret and equal”. Cuban citizens are allowed to vote from the age of 16 and can be elected from the age of 18.
On the two upper levels, the candidates for the respective parliament are selected by an electoral commission made up of representatives of the six mass organizations. According to the constitution, these are under the direct control of the Communist Party (PCC), which has the leading role of society. According to the Cuban government, the election itself should take place with a unified vote for all candidates (voto unido) - there is exactly one candidate for each parliamentary seat. A white election (voto en blanco) , i.e. the election of none of the candidates on the ballot, as well as deletions or comments, are considered invalid.
At the municipal (municipal) level, candidates are elected in citizens' assemblies organized by the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) . Every citizen has the right to propose candidates there. These candidates are voted on in an open, non-secret ballot. Only those who receive at least 50% of the votes in such a citizens' assembly are allowed to be candidates for the election to the assembly of people's power . Opposition candidates have practically no chance.
The legislative period is five years at the national and provincial level and two and a half years at the municipal level. The elected representatives must regularly answer questions from their voters; their mandate can be withdrawn at any time. Voters can always submit suggestions or problems for their area to local parliaments. According to the Cuban parliament, a total of 209,000 of these petitions were submitted in the 2010–12 electoral period, and solutions were found for more than 60%.
Election advertising is only allowed to the state media, not to the individual candidate. Only his passport photo and short curriculum vitae are disclosed of him, but not his political positions or his political plans. According to the Cuban government, this is to ensure that it is not the candidate with the most money that wins, but that the entire population sees itself represented in parliaments according to its share. Nevertheless, especially in higher parliamentary assemblies, “workers, farmers, blacks and low-level service professions” are rather underrepresented. And although only five percent of the Cuban population are party members, the proportion of MPs for the Asamblea Nacional is almost one hundred percent. In fact, the electoral system serves to secure the rule of the revolutionary elite around the Castro brothers.
The UN Human Rights Commission assessed the elections in Cuba as undemocratic, as the results were practically certain in advance.
Organized opposition to the government and the Communist Party is not provided for in the Cuban political system, and non-governmental parties or civil society organizations are illegal.
The inner-Cuban opposition is fundamentally trying to achieve a transformation in Cuba, but there are sometimes major ideological and strategic differences of opinion among competing groups. In addition, the government has effective instruments of control and repression (see section on the human rights situation ).
The most prominent representatives of the opposition currently include the human rights group “ Women in White ”, the organization Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU, whose leading members include the former political prisoners Guillermo Fariñas and José Daniel Ferrer ) and the journalist and blogger, who is particularly well known abroad Yoani Sánchez. A large number of government opponents are active in exile, which is still gaining popularity due to the emigration of Cuban opposition members, which is no longer hindered by the government. Political statements or actions by Cubans abroad are hardly noticeable on the island.
The Catholic Church of Cuba was the only Cuban institution to act as a mediator between the government and the opposition in a few individual cases during Raúl Castro's presidency. The most important example of this was the release of dozens of political prisoners, the vast majority of whom were flown into exile in Spain with their families in 2010. Within its own buildings, publications and events, the church offers a limited space for political expressions of opinion that may deviate from the government position. These statements range from tolerated demonstrations by the “ladies in white” on church premises to pastoral letters from the bishops' conference to the organization of sociological colloquia.
Trade unions under the leadership of the Central de Trabajadores de Cuba , Committees for the Defense of the Revolution ( Comités de Defensa de la Revolución , CDR), the women's association and youth associations, such as the pioneer organization José Martí , the Young Communists and the Federation of University Students , form mass organizations , which include almost every Cuban in the state system and at the same time control his social behavior ("eyes and ears of the revolution"). Like the PCC, the mass organizations are structured hierarchically.
With the help of the mass organizations, the government achieved a strong mobilization of the population. In weeks of demonstration campaigns , she brings almost every adult Cuban onto the street at least once (record: seven million participants). For the constitutional referendum in 1976 to establish socialism, the CDR collected the signatures of almost 93 percent of the population.
Workers' organizations outside the state trade union confederation are prohibited.
Human rights situation
Many civil and political rights , in particular those to freedom of expression, press, association, assembly and movement, are massively curtailed. There is no independent jurisdiction. Human rights associations are not allowed. The Cuban constitution guarantees many basic rights, such as freedom of art , freedom of expression and freedom of religion , only with the restriction that their exercise must not be directed against the revolution or socialist goals. Cuba was and is the only socialist country in which Freemasonry is not forbidden. There are around 30,000 Freemasons here.
HIV- infected people and homosexuals were discriminated against for a long time in Cuba and those infected with HIV were subjected to violent reprisals while in custody. Although the situation has improved a lot in recent years, those affected continue to complain about attacks by the police against sexual minorities.
International human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International document in particular the politically motivated arrest and conviction of government critics. Of 75 political dissidents who were sentenced to 28 years in prison after their imprisonment in 2003, 55 were still in prisons in 2008, suffering from poor medical care and ill-treatment. In mid-2010, the Catholic Church in Cuba, led by Cardinal Jaime Ortega, obtained the promise of the Cuban government to release all 52 other prisoners held by Amnesty International as non-violent political prisoners. By the end of 2010, 41 political prisoners had been released. With the exception of one, all of them were expelled to Spain together with their closest family members , which agreed to accept the dissidents. In late March 2011, the remaining prisoners of the group of 75 arrested during the Black Spring 2003 were released. Two of them were allowed to stay in Cuba. On December 24, 2011, President Raúl Castro announced an amnesty that would affect around 3,000, mostly non-political prisoners. Since then, the Cuban government has increasingly relied on short arrests of government opponents. Five political prisoners recognized by Amnesty International as prisoners of conscience were released in January 2015, three of them on parole. A political prisoner was serving his one-year sentence for "public disturbance" at the time. The repression against opposition members continued, however.
Independent journalists and human rights defenders are regularly harassed, intimidated and temporarily arrested. There are reports of mistreatment by kicks and blows. The prison conditions are harsh and some of the inmates have physical problems. Oppositionists are also regularly exposed to so-called Actos de Repudio . An organized mob rises in front of the house of the opposition and verbally abuses him and his family for hours as “worms” (Spanish: gusanos ) and traitors. In some cases, this goes as far as the destruction of the property of those affected without punishment.
The institutional racism of the former Cuba was abolished after the victory of the revolution. However, racist attitudes and latent discrimination against the black part of the population have not been overcome since then. White people are disproportionately represented in prestigious management positions or in professions that promise foreign currency income, for example in tourism. Blacks are also indirectly disadvantaged when it comes to admission to small private businesses or money transfers from relatives who have emigrated abroad. The socialist leadership is reluctant to address this problem as it touches a key aspect of their revolutionary legitimacy. As a result, Cuba's national statistical office (ONE) publishes little data on the growing socio-economic divide. However, a scientific survey shows the structural disadvantage of the Afro-Cuban population.
Since the end of 2007, individual public criticism of the situation has been tolerated. Raúl Castro, who was still interim head of state at the time, had called for discussions on the future development of the country, while Cuban Yoani Sánchez reported publicly on the everyday problems of Cubans in a blog from Cuba. However, according to Amnesty International, in a statement from August 2013, in which it named five new Cubans as prisoners of conscience, the human rights situation has not improved significantly under Raúl Castro. The political prisoners known by name were only "the tip of the iceberg" of everyday state repression. The only positive exception was the migration law that came into force in January 2013, which now also allows government critics to travel abroad.
The social human rights are well implemented in Cuba in part. For example, the right to education is exemplary for the region , as is health care. The general standard of living, on the other hand, measured according to the standard of industrialized countries, is at a low level. This applies above all to the living situation and the supply of everyday goods. According to Amnesty, the US embargo against Cuba is partly to blame for this. The international program coordinator of the UN Population Fund ( UNFPA ) in Cuba, Jesús Robles, highlighted the work of the Cuban government in promoting and protecting women, young people and children in July 2011. The state guarantees mothers maternity leave with wages and the right to return to work. Parents of newborns are given one full paid day off per month for the first year to check the child's health in the children's clinic.
One of the primary goals of the revolution was equality between men and women. In 1953, 13.9% of women had a job, in 1980 it was 31.1%, in 2008 it was 38% (see diagram). The proportion of women in technical professions is 65.7%, the proportion of female managers 39.1%. 65% of university graduates are female. Nevertheless, there is also a difference here between official government discourse and actual practice. Most women are exposed to the stressful dual role between work and household. The higher the management level in the world of work or within the government, the lower the proportion of women. In 2012, only one woman was represented in the 15-person Politburo. Probably not a single woman is among the most influential people in Cuba. Women's rights activists still complain about the prevailing “decision-making bodies in which patriarchal and machist patterns still prevail.” These and other problems are regularly addressed and discussed at conferences and meetings of mass organizations, for example the women's association FMC, but the possibilities are real profound changes bring about, narrowly limited. In case of doubt, especially at the functionary level, the state or party council has priority over the representation of interests.
In January 2013, an internationally recognized amendment to the Travel Act came into force, which fundamentally simplified foreign travel by Cubans, which had previously been hindered by high bureaucratic hurdles. The measure had been expected long since the government announced in May 2011 that it would review the previous restrictive provisions. The reform abolished the high-cost exit permit Cubans had previously required for each individual trip abroad, for which an invitation from abroad was also required. In addition, minors were also given the opportunity to travel abroad for the first time, the maximum permitted stay abroad was extended to 24 months and numerous Cubans who had fled Cuba were generally permitted to return home after a certain period of time. Several members of the opposition who had previously been prevented from leaving the country were also able to leave the country for temporary stays abroad from February 2013, while others continued to be refused the issue of passports for political reasons. There is still no fundamental right to leave the country. The law gave the authorities the express possibility of refusing to leave the country out of an unspecified “public interest”. A passport is unaffordable for large parts of the population: It costs 100 CUC , around five average monthly salaries, and has to be renewed every two years at the same price.
A legal exit from Cuba, regardless of whether for tourist purposes or for emigration, was only possible after an elaborate approval process, which, however, was greatly simplified and made cheaper for most Cubans when the migration law came into force in mid-January 2013. The Cuban Criminal Code provides for prison sentences of one to three years or fines for unauthorized departure or attempted departure. The USA is the preferred destination for emigration.
In all, hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled to the United States in the years after the victory of the revolution. In the first wave, up to around 1962, these were largely families from the upper and middle classes of Cuba. But then there are also many members of the middle and working class.
There was a large wave of emigration in 1980 when the news was spread via US broadcasters that the Peruvian embassy in Havana was issuing visas for emigration to Peru , which would allow onward travel to the USA. In view of the onslaught of tens of thousands of people wishing to leave the country, some of whom had had passports for a long time, the Peruvian ambassador requested police protection. When a group broke this police protection, applied for political asylum at the embassy and was not extradited by the Peruvians, the Cuban government lifted the lockdown on the Peruvian embassy. The intolerable conditions on the embassy premises were ended on April 17th when Fidel Castro gave a speech giving the opportunity to travel by ship from the port of Mariel to the USA without a visa . The ships were escorted to the 12-mile zone off the US coast. By October 31, 1980, approximately 125,000 Cubans had left the country. In a speech on May 1, 1980, Fidel Castro described the embassy refugees as work-shy scum, supported by appropriate chants from the audience. Juan Carlos Zaldívar processed the events of the time in the documentary 90 Miles .
To end this wave of immigration, the US government under President Carter concluded an agreement with the Cuban government that was supposed to regulate legal entry via fixed quotas, but was no longer adhered to by the subsequent Reagan administration .
The last major wave of emigration so far took place in August 1994. On August 5, due to the difficult supply situation during the special period that peaked in the summer of 1994 , the unrest in Havana, known as the Maleconazo , broke out in Havana . Although the situation de-escalated again relatively quickly, among other things because the still highly respected and charismatic Prime Minister Fidel Castro appeared in person to calm the situation, but on August 7th, Castro ordered the lifting of the coastal surveillance and thus triggered another large-scale exodus from Cuba from that as Balsero - (Rafter) crisis is known, and probably fled more than 33,000 Cubans to the United States during.
The United States, under the administration of Bill Clinton, then negotiated a migration agreement with Cuba. The US has agreed to issue 20,000 visas each year that allow legal immigration. In return, the US undertook to deport all illegal refugees it apprehends at sea to Cuba immediately (wet feet, dry feet policy) . However, the actual number of visas issued was usually significantly lower. In 2007 there were 15,000.
Since 1962, Cuban emigrants have not been allowed to sell most of their property or take them abroad with them, and property left behind was nationalized even if the permitted duration of a temporary stay abroad was exceeded. These provisions expired when the amended Migration Act came into force in mid-January 2013.
In total, over a million Cubans have left their homes since the revolution.
Relationship with the USA
Towards the end of the 1950s, the United States supported a group of Cuban exiles that the new government wanted to militarily eliminate and carried out the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961 . As a result, the United States implemented a comprehensive economic, trade and financial blockade against Cuba, which was presented as a reaction to the expropriation of US citizens in Cuba. The 1992 Torricelli Act tightened sanctions, followed by the Helms-Burton Act, which came into force in 1996 .
The embargo will of the United Nations condemned. The UN General Assembly has passed a resolution every year since 1992 calling for the lifting of all sanctions against Cuba - most recently in October 2011: 186 votes in favor, two against (USA and Israel), three abstentions (the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau) .
In 2000, the US embargo on the ban on food and drug exports was greatly eased by the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (law to reform trade sanctions and export improvements ) . However, many other trade restrictions remained in place. The damage caused to Cuba by the blockade so far is estimated by the Cuba's government at around 89 billion US dollars. Cuban opposition and other critics of the Cuban government, however, strongly question the effect of the US trade embargo. On the contrary, it only serves as a pretext to justify the “conditions contrary to international law”, the main cause of which lies in the “collective mode of production”. The historian Michael Zeuske assumes that the Cuban government, despite the massive economic damage, is not interested in lifting the embargo, otherwise it would probably no longer exist. In fact, it ensures the survival of the Castro government by polarizing the national consciousness of the Cuban population to this day. Raúl Castro also rejects unilateral blame for Cuba's economic difficulties on the "blockade". Rather, structural problems in the state's central economy are responsible, as he noted in a speech to the National Assembly in December 2010.
Despite the embargo, the USA is now an important trading partner for Cuba and is now in sixth place in terms of imports. The Cuban state imports food and feed worth half a billion dollars from the United States every year. About one billion US dollars annually flow into the Cuban economy through money sent by exiled Cuban communities in the USA to their family members, which roughly corresponds to the income of the Cuban tourism industry. Earlier upper limits for money sent by US citizens to direct family members in Cuba, most recently lowered by President George W. Bush, were lifted by President Obama in 2009.
The US government supports parts of the opposition in Cuba. In 2006, US $ 15 million was earmarked in the budget to support Cuban opposition groups and Cuban organizations in exile in Miami (source: USAID Cuba Program), some of which are paid directly to the target organizations by the US interest group in Havana or via the exile organizations in Miami are distributed. In 2014 it became known that between 2010 and 2012 the USA tried to use the microblogging service ZunZuneo to build a communication network that was not controlled by the Cuban government and that was also planned as a long-term tool to coordinate anti-government actions.
In December 2014, a new phase of bilateral relations was initiated. A prisoner exchange was agreed between USAID employee Alan Gross and the three remaining Miami Five, among others . Furthermore, a new establishment of diplomatic relations was announced.
At the end of May 2015 it was announced that the USA would shortly open an embassy in Havana. Cuba will be removed from the list of terrorist supporting states it was previously on. This eliminates numerous sanctions against the country. On July 20, 2015, the two countries resumed official diplomatic relations. The United States Embassy in Havana officially reopened on August 14, 2015. Since September 17th, Cuba has again officially had an ambassador to the USA in the form of the previous head of the Cuban interest group.
Alliance partner and membership in international organizations
Cuba has a close alliance with Venezuela, shaped by the late President Hugo Chavez . The country supplies Cuba with oil below world market prices. For this, Cuba is sending medical staff and literacy helpers to Venezuela. In 2006, thousands of Venezuelans were operated on in Cuba during Operation Milagro . Another joint project is the Bolivarian Alternative for America (ALBA). Good relations also connect Cuba with Bolivia, which was ruled by Evo Morales in the past , and with the People's Republic of China . On April 29, 2006, the presidents of Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia signed the Peoples' Trade Treaty . In December 2008, Cuba joined the Rio Group . Cuba is also a member of CELAC . Cuba also maintains friendly relations with Vietnam and North Korea , with the latter in particular in the military field.
Cuba is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement .
Cuban foreign engagements
From the beginning the Cuban revolutionaries were internationalist and global and wanted to spread the revolution to as many other countries as possible. Although Cuba was still a developing country itself, the government was engaged in military, medical and educational fields in African, Latin American and Asian countries. From the mid-1960s onwards, Africa became the focus of foreign policy activities, where African revolutionaries such as Patrice Lumumba , Amílcar Cabral and Agostinho Neto (see also Cuban Military Deployment in Angola ) asked the Cubans for support for their movements. So they supported diplomatically and with military means also z. B. the South African liberation troops in the overthrow of the apartheid regime .
Despite its own economic problems, Cuba supports other developing nations, especially in the medical field. As part of the Operación Milagro (“miracle”), eye operations are carried out for people from developing countries in Cuba. By May 2009, 24,000 Ukrainian children, victims of the Chernobyl nuclear accident , had been treated free of charge in Cuba. The cost of this is estimated at around $ 350 million for the drugs alone.
As a rule, Cuban doctors and nurses have been or are employed abroad for two years (possibly also with an annual contract), especially in other Latin American countries. a. in Haiti , Venezuela , Bolivia , Central America and since 2013 - as part of the “Mais Médicos” (more doctors) program to care for rural regions - in Brazil. In addition, there are disaster relief operations. a. after the earthquakes in Kashmir in 2005 and in Pakistan in 2008 . After the earthquake disaster of 2010 and to fight the cholera epidemic , around 1200 Cuban medics and helpers were sent to Haiti. In October 2014, Cuba sent 165 doctors and nurses to Sierra Leone to fight the Ebola disease . However, the quality of the Cuban mass medical education is increasingly being called into question internationally.
Cuban foreign exposures are an important source of foreign exchange income. Annual income is estimated at around $ 4.6 billion. Typically, Cuba charges the host country around $ 2,500 per month for a doctor working abroad; Brazil pays around $ 4,000 a month. The wages of the Cuban employees are transferred directly to the Cuban government, which withholds up to 93% of the payments, according to a study by the medical organization “Solidaridad Sin Fronteras” (Solidarity Without Borders). In Brazil, Cuban doctors and nurses receive a good 10% of their wages. As a result, more and more Cuban medics “desert” in Brazil and especially from Venezuela, where more than 10,000 of them are deployed (as of 2015). Hundreds, if not more than 1000, of them have fled to Colombia from serving in Venezuela. The doctors sent to around 60 countries during the COVID-19 pandemic also work under slave-like conditions, as only a tiny part of the money paid by the hosts goes into their pockets. The UN therefore rates the operations potentially as “modern slavery”.
Haiti is one of the few countries that does not have to pay for Cuba's medical services. Insofar as the Cuban doctors in Haiti consistently work in projects financed by foreign aid organizations, it is those aid organizations there that bear the costs.
Education is free in Cuba, and schooling is compulsory for 9 years . Cuba has a tripartite education system consisting of elementary, middle and high schools.
Cuba's education system is among the best in Latin America, both before and after the revolution. In 2001, fourth and fifth grade Cuban students were well ahead of other Latin American countries in a UNESCO test . The school enrollment rate is 100 percent, illiteracy is almost zero. According to the UNESCO Education for All Development Index , Cuba is one of the most highly developed countries in the world in terms of education with a well-educated population.
In the last few years, however, there has been an increasing shortage of teachers. Many teachers, despite their good training, just like many doctors and other highly qualified people, prefer to work in the tourism sector, because the tip alone is many times a Cuban salary. As compensation for cheaper oil from Venezuela, Cuba also lends many teachers to various friendly countries in Latin America to help build a functioning education system there. The Cuban government is trying to compensate for this shortage of teachers with so-called “emergency aid teachers”, 16 to 18-year-old school leavers who are prepared for their tasks in crash courses, and with tele-classes, i.e. lessons via video cassette. In addition, already retired teachers are to be lured back into active school service. The proportion of young emergency teachers has now risen to almost 50 percent, which makes qualified teaching almost impossible. Nevertheless, there have been attempts to maintain the education system and make it more efficient in recent times.
Through an initiative to promote culture, more than two million students will receive theater, music, drawing and other artistic lessons in the period 2011–2012. In addition, there have been wage increases for teachers in the country in recent years.
For boys, the school system is also in the service of pre-military training, older pupils learn how to handle weapons. Every year the teachers have to assess each student and their parents in writing according to their political orientation and political activities.
Studying in Cuba is free, but all students have to do a social service for the state for three years after graduation. In Cuba, the proportion of women among its students is higher than in any other Latin American country. Likewise, Cuban students do better than their fellow students in Latin America in math, science, and languages .
Part of the Cuban education system is also that pupils and students are regularly sent to rural boarding schools, where they work unpaid in agriculture in addition to their education.
The Cuban state guarantees every Cuban citizen medical care. Medical treatment is generally free of charge for Cubans; patients have to pay an additional fee for drugs from the pharmacy. Many drugs are only available for dollars.
The Cuban health system is characterized by good preventive care, a high density of doctors (theoretically 160 inhabitants per doctor, but a third of them work abroad) and a high level of integration ( polyclinics ). Each settlement has a so-called "family doctor". Family doctors reside in buildings that follow an identical blueprint across the country. This is where both the practice and the doctor's apartment are located, which should ensure availability of 24 hours.
|Development of life expectancy over time|
|Period||Life expectancy||Period||Life expectancy|
Infant mortality is one of the lowest (2010, 4.5 infants per 1,000 births) and life expectancy one of the highest in the Americas. According to the Cuban doctor and dissident Darsi Ferrer that number is, however, by an extremely high number of abortions of risk pregnancies achieved. 99.9% of Cuban children are born in public health facilities. According to UNICEF, the coverage and quality of child and mother-friendly hospitals in Cuba meet the highest standards worldwide. According to the UNICEF representative for Cuba, José Juan Ortiz Brú, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is best implemented in this country.
According to a report by the WHO in 2012, Cuba is one of the countries with the world's lowest tuberculosis rate, with 7 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Further investments were also made in occupational safety. The number of accidents at work per 1,000 workers in Cuba fell from 5.2 in 1999 to 1.6 in 2011 (Germany: 25.8 per 1,000 workers). According to a ranking by the NGO Save the Children , Cuba is the Latin American country that offers mothers the best conditions. The study took into account factors such as general health conditions, educational levels, and the economic and political status of mothers. Furthermore, the prosperity of the children was considered, the under-five mortality rate and the percentage of malnourished children.
However, there are problems: Although Cuba theoretically has one of the highest density of doctors in the world, many medical facilities are dilapidated and medical equipment is often outdated and in poor condition. Important medication is also often missing and the hygienic conditions leave a lot to be desired. There are long waiting times in the polyclinics because around 40,000 doctors work abroad and bring the state 6 billion euros per year. The number of family doctors fell by 62% between 2009 and 2014, from over 32,000 to under 13,000. The doctors are paid no more than other workers and employees and receive only a fraction of what they cost abroad as wages. There is no reliable rescue service . There is also a lack of drugs such as antibiotics and medical equipment in surgery and dentistry . Existing medical infrastructure can only be used to a limited extent. There are major deficits in the training of doctors in modern high-tech medicine.
The spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Cuba is putting the health system on the socialist Caribbean island to the test. Originally brought to the island by tourists and Cubans returning from abroad, the virus has spread rapidly across the island; Around 1,000 cases of infection were counted in mid-April. The country has a broad health system with a very high density of doctors ( COVID-19 pandemic in Cuba ). The above problems are exacerbated by the current situation. In addition, there are sometimes dramatic supply bottlenecks, including with sanitary products or the water supply. Due to the high age structure, around a quarter of the population is classified as a risk group. Despite the critical situation on the island itself, Cuba has sent brigades of doctors to fight the COVID-19 epidemic in a number of countries, including northern Italy and numerous Caribbean countries.
|World Health Organization statistics on Cuban healthcare|
|Life expectancy at birth m / f: (years)||77/81|
|Child mortality: (per 1000)||5.5|
|Adult mortality m / f: (per 1000)||120/78|
|Doctors per 1000 inhabitants:||6.8|
|Dentists per 1000 inhabitants:||0.87|
|Hospital beds per 10,000 inhabitants:||49|
|Health expenditure per capita: ( US dollars )||405|
|Health expenditure as a percentage of GDP :||8.6|
|HIV / AIDS rate as a percentage of the adult population:||0.052|
|Source: WHO country information on Cuba|
Military and civil defense
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias - FAR) now number around 49,000 men. There is conscription for men. The number of members of the regular armed forces has fallen sharply since the end of the Cold War . At that time their strength was around 300,000 men. 430,000 Cuban soldiers were deployed in the Angola conflict alone. No other Latin American country was so militarily involved outside of its own continent.
There are also the around one million strong paramilitary militias for territorial defense (MTT - Milicias de Tropas Territoriales) . Their relatives are civilians and have access to weapons in their living and working areas. They are trained for guerrilla warfare against possible invaders and form part of the military armed forces in times of war, with the task of binding the opposing forces and thus giving the units of the regular army time to mobilize .
The army is also responsible for civil defense . Originally set up to organize the population in the event of a defense, today's main tasks are to protect the population from the consequences of natural disasters, in particular the annually occurring hurricanes . This is done very efficiently, so that despite the sometimes immense damage to property, hardly anyone is harmed.
Before the revolution, Cuba was one of the richest countries in Latin America in terms of GDP per capita . Since the 1870s, incomes have been among the highest in South America. Its infrastructure , such as the transport and telecommunications network, was state-of-the-art. The health and school systems could also compete with the countries of the First World. Cuba was the world's largest exporter of sugar, and the United States bought large and guaranteed quantities of sugar annually at fixed prices. However, there were huge imbalances in the distribution of national wealth, both between social classes and between urban and rural areas, especially between the capital Havana and the easternmost parts of the country. The influence of US direct investors on the Cuban economy was still quite large, but steadily declining.
Despite the most adverse external circumstances, Cuba's economic problems are primarily due to internal development blocks.
Today Cuba is one of the last remaining socialist economies . After the end of the Soviet Union , the loss of Cuba's most important trading partner in 1991 led to an economic crisis (called período especial en tiempo de paz = special period in peacetime; in short: período especial / special period), which continues to this day. The Comecon states had bought Cuba's agricultural products above market prices and provided financial aid; the Soviet Union alone recently paid $ 5 billion a year.
Because of the great economic difficulties, the US dollar became the official currency alongside the peso in 1993. Since November 8, 2004, the US dollar has been replaced by the convertible peso .
The desperate economic situation forced the government to implement market economy reforms in order to ensure basic supplies for the population. In addition to the planned economy, a second economic sector with market economy elements emerged. For the first time, family and one-person businesses ( trabajo de cuenta propia - work for one's own account) were allowed, some state-owned businesses were run according to economic knowledge and farmers were allowed to sell some of the goods they produced themselves. Later, these cautious reforms towards a market economy were not completely reversed, but the issuing of licenses was handled much more restrictively. Many existing family businesses were also no longer able to meet the increasingly restrictive requirements and had to close.
To utilize foreign investment capital, joint ventures were established with Cuban state-owned companies, the latter in turn being controlled by the military due to their strategic importance. The joint ventures with foreign companies are subject to restrictions. They are not allowed to choose their Cuban employees themselves and have to pay their wages in dollars to the government. The employees receive the normal Cuban wage in pesos. A large part of the wages is paid in this way.
In September 2010, the Cuban government announced comprehensive reforms in order to counter structural economic problems with a gradual expansion of market mechanisms and independent work. This course, presented by Raúl Castro as having no alternative, which is reminiscent of the reform policies of China and Vietnam, was confirmed by the National Assembly in December 2010. The planned measures include, among other things, the dismissal of 500,000 state employees, more than ten percent of the workforce employed in the state sector, by March 2011. Unemployment benefits of up to 60% of the basic monthly wage are only available for long-term employees, however, depending on the length of service, a maximum of five months . Overall, according to Raúl Castro, the state has a surplus of a million employees. Yet there is a shortage of workers, particularly in agriculture, construction and industry. There are also undesirable developments among academics. Too much has been trained against the needs of the economy, which must now be corrected. Access to universities is to be made more difficult and the level of university studies raised. However, there is complaint about the lack of qualified teachers to train skilled workers as needed. The government also hopes that many of those laid off will now find employment in the private sector. For this purpose, the conditions for working on one's own account have been relaxed - employees from outside the family can now also be employed - and the possible industries expanded to include beauty salons and hairdressers, for example. With government approval, around 310,000 people had become self-employed by mid-2011, most of them in food production and sales. For the up-and-coming private sector, remittances from family members from abroad primarily serve as start-up capital. This results in a structural disadvantage for Afro-Cubans, who have significantly fewer family members abroad. The most lucrative branches of business such as restaurants and accommodation are run by "whites" in particular. While the official unemployment rate is around 2.5 percent, even trade unionists close to the government estimate that the actual unemployment rate is likely to be ten times that, namely around 25 percent. During the six-monthly parliamentary session in July 2014, however, the government was disappointed with the results so far. Economic growth had not met their expectations.
Experts raised numerous concerns about the planned economic reforms. On the one hand, it was doubted that this half-hearted opening in the direction of a market economy would work in the long term with central government control remaining as constant as possible. In addition, the planned layoff of up to 50 percent of state jobs was not matched by an adequate supply in the private sector in which the laid-off workers and employees should look for new employment. Only around 180 relatively simple fields of activity were allowed there, so that, for the most part, men and women would work far below their qualifications.
At the instigation of the USA, Cuba is practically excluded from the international financial system dominated by the IMF and World Bank . A cooperation agreement with the EU has not yet come about either. In 1999, Cuba unilaterally broke off such negotiations. Nevertheless, the EU initially remained one of Cuba's most important trading partners. In 2000, more than half of both direct investment and imports came from EU countries. Venezuela and China are now Cuba's most important trading partners and lenders.
Cuba has been in an extreme economic crisis since around 2009 due to the 2008 hurricane season and Cuba's inefficient economy. In contrast to earlier, since Raúl Castro took office, official discourses of the Cuban government, especially the head of government himself, no longer cite external circumstances such as the US blockade or the unfavorable world market as the main cause of the economic problems, but focus more on structural problems of the referenced centrally controlled state economy. Above all, it is important to fight mismanagement and corruption in state-run companies. Due to the constitutional amendment also sought by Raúl Castro in 2018 and approved by the people in 2019, there should be limited forms of private property again in Cuba, and marriage should also be opened up for everyone .
There are two official currencies in Cuba, the Peso Cubano (CUP or MN for Moneda Nacional ) as the original currency in which state wages are paid and the essential local staple food and basic services, and the convertible peso (CUC), the as a substitute foreign currency is directly linked to the value of the US dollar and is required in particular for imported goods and higher-quality services. Since its introduction, the number of articles for everyday use that are only sold in CUC and thus at prices that are difficult to afford for consumers without direct access to foreign currency has increased. The demand for convenience goods for national currency significantly exceeds that too according to official figures offer .
The exchange ratio set by the state since March 2005 is 1:24 when buying Cuban pesos for CUC and vice versa 25: 1 if you want to exchange Cuban pesos for convertible pesos. In the national accounts , however, a ratio of 1: 1 between the two national currencies is assumed. At the end of July 2013, Raúl Castro announced that it would merge the two currencies, as their duality was hampering economic reforms. On October 22, 2013, the cabinet approved a timetable for a transition process.
The growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) has recovered since the economic crisis of 1993 (0.7 percent) to three percent in 2004. According to state data, the economy grew by 11.8 percent in 2005 ( CEPAL estimate : 3%), in 2006 by 12.5%. For 2007 the Cuban Ministry of Economic Affairs announced growth of 7.5%, for 2008 8% is forecast. The official figures are unsuitable for comparisons with other countries, since Cuba uses its own, internationally not recognized calculation method, the "PIP Social Sostenible" (Sustainable Social GDP), which uses free or heavily subsidized services from the state to calculate GDP included. Other sources estimate economic growth to be lower in 2006 (7.6%, 8% and 9.5%).
Production had dropped to 48% of its 1989 level by 2009. Cuba's foreign trade balance is very negative, the country has to import more goods than it can export. In the first quarter of 2009, imports accounted for a total of 80 percent of foreign trade. The external debt and trade deficit are the highest in Latin America in 2009. Liabilities to foreign countries and investors can only be partially serviced.
Ultimately, the high official growth rates since the turn of the millennium are mainly due to the high subsidies from Venezuela and the high nickel price until 2008. Julio Borges named the size of the subsidies from Venezuela at 35 billion dollars within 15 years, at the peak of which they reached 12 percent of the gross domestic product according to Carmelo Mesa-Lago . However, economic growth hardly reached the Cubans' private consumption. In 2011 Cuba worked on the revision of the statistics in order to be able to provide comparable data in the future.
Nickel production is now gaining in importance, and the current high steel prices have a favorable effect here. In addition, the following raw materials are mined in larger or smaller quantities: chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, gold and silver as well as small amounts of crude oil and natural gas.
According to estimates by the state-owned oil company CUPET , Cuba has oil reserves of up to 20 billion barrels off its coasts, which is roughly equivalent to the remaining reserves of the USA and almost double the reserves of Mexico. The US Geological Survey estimates Cuba's oil reserves at around 9 billion barrels and around 60 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Despite considerable investments - including in 2012 in the use of an oil rig with a drilling depth of more than 3.6 kilometers - previous test wells by various foreign oil production companies have not yet revealed the possibility of profitable production of the oil, which is why more investments are now being made in production on the mainland. The estimated oil production in 2014 was less than 30 percent of consumption.
In agriculture, sugar is still the most important export good, followed by tobacco . In 2000, Cuba exported 2.9 million tons of sugar, of which the main buyers were Russia with 42%, the western industrialized countries with 31% and China with 9%. However, sugar production fell from 9 million tons in 1987 to 2.5 million tons in 2006. In 2010, Cuba had the worst sugar cane harvest in more than 100 years, with around one million tons of sugar being produced. In theory, Cuba is a fertile land that could be harvested three times a year. The geography of the country with predominantly flat or hilly land and favorable soil conditions offers almost ideal conditions. Much land lies fallow, however, and Cuba imports more than half of its food, in some years even sugar from Brazil. Cuba spent up to $ 2.5 billion annually on food imports. In 2008, 84% of the food had to be imported, including around 80% of the basic foodstuffs valued at around one billion dollars, which are distributed through the Libreta system for rationed and subsidized goods, including rice, potatoes, beans and meat.
Before the collapse of the Soviet Union and the associated loss of fuel and financial resources, the highly mechanized and chemically supported, centrally controlled industrial agriculture had to completely reorient itself in the early 1990s. Suddenly there was a lack of fuel for the agricultural machinery as well as fertilizers and pesticides . State production of agricultural goods collapsed. Obedient to the need, an increasingly better functioning, private-based urban agriculture developed. It supplied 80% of the population with largely locally produced organic products, unintentionally making Cuba the global leader in organic agriculture . The Asociación Cubana de Agricultura Orgánica (ACAO - German: Cuban Association for Organic Agriculture), founded in 1992, was awarded the Right Livelihood Award , known as the Alternative Nobel Prize , in 1999 for its pioneering work . A few months later, the Cuban government banned the ACAO, which now comprises 30,000 people. The largely ecological agriculture remained until today and could serve as a model for the adaptation of agriculture in other countries with oil scarcity .
The marginal tropical climate provides good conditions, but also creates considerable problems: Large parts of the harvest are often destroyed due to the increasing number of high- intensity hurricanes and the recurring periods of drought . Cuba's food production declined overall from 2001 to 2007. Poultry production, for example, had almost halved after overcoming the main difficulties of the special period. After a decline of 6% in 2006, the agricultural sector was able to recover in 2007; in 2007 it was the fastest growing economic sector in Cuba with a growth of 22.4% and overall economic growth of 7%. This was obviously due to the measures taken to reduce the state's payment arrears vis-à-vis the producers, the increase in the purchase prices for their products and favorable climatic conditions.
Around half of the 3.5 million hectares of land is either not used or is insufficiently used. Only 32 percent of the land is cultivated by cooperatives, the rest by private farmers. Around 900,000 people work as farmers or in cooperatives and in 2015 there was only one tractor for almost 15 employees. In addition to mostly 30-year-old tractors, oxen and horses are also used in 2016. In order to boost agricultural production and reduce dependence on expensive imports, unused agricultural land has been given to landless workers and farmers since September 2008. The lease agreements are valid for ten years for private individuals and 25 years for cooperatives. The rights of use can neither be inherited nor sold. Cuban experts consider the selective reforms carried out so far to be inadequate and instead call for structural reforms towards a more market economy. Agricultural production could not be increased significantly until 2012 and dependency on imports could not be reduced.
In 2011 agricultural production (excluding the sugar industry) grew by 8.7%, after a decline of 2.5% in the previous year, but was still below the level of 2005. The plan for urban agriculture was exceeded by 105%. 1,052,000 tons of vegetables were harvested. A production of 1,055,000 tons was planned for 2012.
More than half of the arable land was fallow at that time. This also meant that up to 85 percent of the food had to be imported, often from the United States.
By 2016, despite the eight-year permission for smallholders to lease arable land for 20 years, food production had barely increased. The farmers lacked seeds, machines and fertilizer to cultivate the fallow land, so they had to continue to sell the majority of the income to the state below market prices, according to Carmelo Mesa-Lago in contrast to Vietnam, which was also due to more consistent privatization 50-year leases and free prices could end its dependence on imports. A good 70 percent of staple foods alone were still imported in 2016.
The beginning of mass tourism in Cuba was triggered by prohibition in the United States in the early 1920s . Cuba became a popular travel destination for Americans because it was close to Florida and was not subject to any gambling or prohibition restrictions as in the United States.
After the victory of the revolution in 1959, only a small number of guests traveled to Cuba in the thirty years that followed, especially from the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc countries . Due to the embargo, US citizens, who made up the majority of visitors before the revolution, are banned from tourism in Cuba. Many Americans circumvent this ban by traveling to Cuba via third countries. There are very few direct transport links between the United States and Cuba, which are mainly used by Cuban exiles to visit relatives, although these are also regulated.
After the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc and the economic crisis in Cuba, the government looked for new sources of foreign currency for Cuba. With the help of internationally active tourism companies, joint ventures have been founded since the early 1990s , which set up and operate hotels and tourist facilities mainly in the main tourist areas. The high tips in foreign currency attracted many highly qualified Cubans into jobs in the tourism industry. Tourism employees are also specially trained at universities in the country with specially established courses.
Today's package tourism concentrates on a few areas, in particular Varadero , the Havana region, the Valle de Viñales , Cayo Coco and the north coast near Holguín ( Guardalavaca Beach ). Due to the high number of doctors and a developed health system, Cuba offers good conditions for health tourism . Tourists combine their vacation stay with medical treatment or trips to Cuba for special treatments such as eye surgery and dental treatment.
Today tourism has taken a leading position in the country's economy and has become the main source of income for foreign exchange. In order to increase the recently falling number of tourists again, various measures such as lowering landing fees at airports, lowering kerosene prices to world market level and faster processing of tourists upon arrival were decided.
In 2010 the number of foreign visitors increased by 4% to 2.5 million (2009 2.4 million) tourists compared to the previous year. By far the largest proportion of tourists came from Canadians with 945,000 visitors in 2010. After that, travelers from the USA, mostly Cuban Americans on family visits, apparently come - not shown separately by the official statistics - with around 400,000 visitors, the highest number since then Victory of the revolution in 1959.
Cuba's industry is largely uncompetitive internationally. The need for industrial goods cannot be covered by in-house production. Industrial production in 2006 was only half that of 1989.
Cuba has a highly developed biotechnology, e.g. B. in agriculture for lack of energy as well as synthetic fertilizers and plant treatment agents promotes organic cultivation methods. The Cuban pharmaceutical industry markets numerous Cuban patents on drugs worldwide. Cuba is among the first countries to develop vaccines against meningitis B and C, hepatitis B , a therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer and a drug for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. With a volume of 350 million US dollars (2007), medical products have become Cuba's second most important export good.
There is also a modern production facility for solar modules .
The most important trading partners are Venezuela and China.
Standard of living
The wages and especially the pensions are very low for the majority of Cubans, so that most of them have to try to earn something in the informal sector or to steal something from the production of their businesses. According to intra-Cuban calculations, an average Cuban family needed around twice their regular income to survive in 2002. Cuba's President Raúl Castro also remarked in a 2007 speech that a Cuban's salary is clearly insufficient to meet all the necessities of daily life. According to official figures, the average monthly income for employed people rose from 455 pesos to 640 pesos per month from 2011 to 2016. H. from around $ 19 to $ 26. Medical staff in particular benefited from substantial wage increases. The minimum working pension in 2005 was about 150 pesos (about $ 7) per month. Cubans who do not benefit from regular dollar transfers from their relatives from abroad, which is the case for more than half the population, are at risk of poverty .
There is a kind of voucher system , called Libreta , which allows the rationed purchase of subsidized goods, mainly food. However, these are only sufficient for about 10 to 14 days of a month. The rest of the daily needs have to be bought on the open market or even in foreign exchange shops, which is extremely difficult with an average income of around 15 euros per month.
In the annual Human Development Index (HDI), Cuba regularly scores comparatively good values. After the country was temporarily not listed in 2010 due to insufficient information on purchasing power parity , it was ranked 44th on the index in 2014, on a par with Bahrain and ahead of Kuwait and EU member Croatia . The worst EU country, Bulgaria , ranked 14 places behind Cuba in 58th place. In Latin America, Cuba took fifth place in 2012 behind Chile and Argentina (40th and 45th place). Cuba has been particularly successful in the field of education and health. In addition, compared to the rest of Latin America and parts of the rest of the world, Cuba has a lower child mortality rate (only 5.5 children in 1,000 die), higher life expectancy (79.3 years - 4.6 years more than Latin America average) and virtually no illiteracy .
Cuba's high ranking in the HDI, which the government likes to quote, has met with criticism in academia. Cuba's methods of calculating gross domestic product are not internationally recognized, mainly because sales in the two national currencies are not correctly offset. This makes it difficult to calculate the gross national income adjusted for purchasing power per capita. The UNDP , which publishes the HDI and the much more detailed Human Development Report (HDR), has therefore developed its own method to estimate purchasing power parity. The Canadian economist Archibald Ritter considers Cuba's statistics in the HDR to be “opaque”. The economist and sociologist Hans-Jürgen Burchardt warns against drawing conclusions about the true standard of living of the Cuban population from these studies alone, since the government, despite undeniable successes in the social field, would optimize the statistical values contained therein. The International Journal of Epidemiology also asked itself why, for example, child mortality was at the level of industrialized countries, but the number of stillbirths was significantly higher, and it assumed that cases shifted from one index represented in the HDR to the other become.
At the end of January 2006, Cuba received a certificate from the UN World Food Program confirming that it is the only country in Latin America and the Caribbean without malnourished children. Only two percent would show symptoms of iron deficiency. In 2011 this was also confirmed by UNICEF. Still, Cuba is not free from hunger . In addition, the censorship prevailing in the country means that it is not possible to independently check in individual cases whether the information provided by the government is correct. Particularly during the supply crisis in the 1960s and during the special period in the 1990s, large parts of the population were affected by a poor nutritional situation. The 2008 financial crisis made this phenomenon more common again. Older people in cities with low pensions and no access to agriculture or the dollar are particularly vulnerable. According to estimates by the historian and Cuban expert Michael Zeuske , the number of Cubans who can afford a maximum of one meal per day will be between 30 and 35 percent in 2012. On average, a Cuban family today has to spend 70 to 90% of their income on food alone.
In other areas, too, prosperity growth stagnated or fell relatively behind other Latin American countries (telecommunications, automobile supply, electricity and food supply). Many houses are old, in need of renovation and overcrowded. There is an acute housing shortage. Some residential areas resemble corresponding problem areas of cities in other Latin American countries, such as the Brazilian favelas or the Argentine Villas Miserias , in which there is sometimes even a lack of medical care. Ailing drinking water supply systems , aided by heavy rainfall and high temperatures, led to the first cholera outbreak in 130 years in the summer of 2012 . The disease was actually considered to be eradicated in Cuba. While official coverage of the true extent of the epidemic has been very reluctant, independent journalists who take up this issue will face prosecution.
Many consumer goods are still rationed and often not even available with the grocery cards. Meat is particularly rare. Access to foreign currency, however, has a much stronger effect, above all through tourism and relatives abroad, mostly in the USA. The two-currency system also poses major problems. Many everyday goods and even more so almost all high-quality products, such as electronic devices, are only available for the convertible peso (CUC), which is based on the US dollar . This currently has to be exchanged for 25 Pesos Cubanos per CUC in the exchange office ( CADECA - Casa de Cambio). Cubans who have no relatives abroad who support them regularly by sending money or who have no other access to foreign currency can hardly afford this. In Cuba this is unofficially known as economic apartheid .
For officials of the Communist Party and officers of the armed forces there is an independent, privileged system of care, their own clubs and special vacation spots where they and their families can vacation at low cost.
In addition to the state, the Catholic Church in Cuba also operates a social network within the scope of its possibilities. However, social help outside the state is not welcomed and, if possible, prevented. The only exceptions are the political development aid of the numerous solidarity associations outside of Cuba that are willing to work with the state.
The Cuban authorities do not provide any internationally comparable information on the state budget . According to published estimates by the US American CIA , the 2016 budget comprised expenditures of the equivalent of 58.59 billion US dollars , which was offset by income of the equivalent of 52.37 billion US dollars. This results in a budget deficit of 7.7% of GDP . Cuba has one of the highest government quotas in the world.
The national debt was - also according to CIA estimates - at the end of 2016 32.7% of GDP (compared to 34.6% in the previous year). Cuba’s credit rating was rated unchanged at Caa2 by Moody’s at the end of 2015 . The last official data on national debt are from 2008 and cannot be used because they are given in non-convertible Cuban pesos (which have no value abroad): 11.6 billion pesos or 19.1% of Cuban GDP. According to research by the European Union, Cuba's debt level in 2008 (excluding the debt to the former Soviet Union of an estimated $ 28 billion) was $ 31.7 billion, of which Cuba no longer serviced $ 20 billion. With regard to foreign debt , Cuba was able to conclude a kind of debt rescheduling agreement with Mexico, Russia, China and Japan in 2013, with around 29 billion US dollars being canceled in the case of Russia alone.
Traffic and transportation
The Cuban infrastructure was hit hard by the special period at the beginning of the 1990s. Due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, spare parts were no longer available for a short time and fuel could only be obtained on the world market against foreign exchange . Public transport with trains and buses therefore had to be severely restricted. As a result of Cuba's economic recovery, the situation has largely returned to normal.
The state railway company Ferrocarriles de Cuba operates the only state railway network still in operation for passenger traffic on a Caribbean island. It is one of the oldest in the world (since 1836) and covers over 4500 kilometers (excluding routes for sugar transport).
Cuba has a well-developed road network, including a motorway, which is not very busy due to the low level of motorization. However, the roads are sometimes in a very bad condition.
Intercity buses are operated by the Astro company, which also includes the Viazul buses for tourists.
Since the revolution, Cubans have not been allowed to own automobiles privately; Exceptions were vehicles that were already in the country before the 1959 revolution. Due to this special location, there are a lot of vintage cars, mostly American cars, in the country. In April 2011, the used car trade was liberalized, and since 2014 Cubans have been allowed to buy new cars. However, the state retains the import monopoly and offers the vehicles at a multiple of the price, as is common in Europe, for example.
The Cuban airlines Cubana , Aerogaviota and Aerocaribbean operate a dense network of domestic flights as well as international flights from Havana José Martí airport as a hub. B. to Canada , Mexico and Spain . After a 55-year break, scheduled flights between Cuba and the USA have been back on August 31, 2016.
See also: List of airports in Cuba
By 2013 the port of Mariel is to be expanded to become the largest container port in the Caribbean. The construction is carried out through a joint venture with the Brazilian company Odebrecht and the Cuban company Almacenes Universal SA. The total investment amounts to 600 million US $. The port entrance is to be 700 meters wide, which will allow two large container ships to be accommodated at the same time. In addition, the port will be accessible to ships with a draft of up to 15 meters (in comparison: the port of Havana only allows a draft of 11 meters). At the end of the expansion work, the terminal should be able to manage a capacity of 850,000 to 1 million containers (Havana port: 350,000 containers). This expansion is intended to enable Mariel to receive large container ships sailing from Asia to Cuba via the Panama Canal. Mariel should also offer optimal conditions for US containers. Mariel is supposed to replace the port of Havana for freight duties, in the future it will only be used for tourism.
The national energy supplier is the state company Sistema Eléctrico Nacional , to whose network 96% of Cuban households are connected. The sockets are 110 volts. In many areas (e.g. hospitals, tourist hotels) 220 volts is also used.
The energy supply is based almost exclusively on fossil fuels. Almost half of it is only produced with heavy fuel oil. If you add the generation by local diesel and other combustion engines, the fossil share rises to 86%. Another 10% comes from gas-fired power plants. The share of renewable energy is therefore very low. Its own oil production had been neglected during the Soviet oversupply, so that it was no longer competitive and Cuba was dependent on expensive imports. Energy efficiency suffers greatly from the outdated power plants and power grids. The electricity generation costs for the Cuban state are 15.75 euro cents (as of 2014). For comparison, the electricity production costs are z. For example, wind energy in Germany ranges between 4.5 ct / kWh at very good locations and 10.7 ct / kWh at very poor locations, depending on the quality of the location.
The maximum total output of all Cuba's power plants is 5852.5 MW, the electricity requirement at peak load times is around 2500 MW. In 2010, 17,395.5 GWh of electricity were generated. The country's energy supply is considered ailing and outdated, which is why there are regular power cuts.
First projects for the use of wind energy , hydropower and photovoltaics are ongoing. Since February 2007, a $ 3.4 million pilot plant supplied by French wind turbine manufacturer Vergnet has been feeding a total of 1.65 MW into the grid east of Nueva Gerona on Isla de la Juventud . Due to the high risk of tropical storms, the 275 kW generators can be automatically lowered to the ground.
The "Energy Revolution " (Revolución energética) proclaimed in 2006 also aims to reduce electricity consumption. For this, incandescent lamps were replaced by energy-saving lamps . In addition, over 2.5 million outdated refrigerators were replaced with more modern models. The purchase price of more than an average annual salary can be paid off over a 10-year income-related interest loan. The number of power outages has decreased since then. Since mid-2016, however, there has been an increasing number of large-scale power cuts after Venezuela reduced the delivery of subsidized oil by 40 percent due to the extreme economic crisis that prevailed there.
The Cuban telephone network, like almost all other infrastructure, is in poor condition. Telecommunications traffic is subject to strict controls. Cell phone network coverage was over 75 percent in 2013. In 2013, trial digital television broadcasting began in the Havana area. The nationwide changeover to DVB-T should begin in 2016 and be completed when the last analog signals are switched off in 2021.
The state telecommunications company ETECSA is responsible for the telecommunications network . The cellular network is operated by the subsidiary Cubacel (identifier C_Com) and covers almost the entire island. The GSM frequencies of 850 and 900 MHz and TDMA , which is mainly used in North America, are used. The UMTS network was also put into operation in March 2017 . The network coverage initially mainly comprised Havana, the provincial capitals and some tourist-relevant regions.
The penetration of the Cuban population with telephones or cell phones is weak. In 2007, with a population of 11.2 million, there were only around 910,000 private telephone connections; according to official statistics, there were 330,000 cell phones. For the end of 2008, around 480,000 active cell phone contracts were reported. In mid-2013 there were 1.7 million active cell phones and 1.2 million private telephone connections in Cuba. Some of the decisive factors here were the elimination of state restrictions (Cubans have been able to open a mobile contract without bureaucratic hurdles since the end of 2008), tariff reductions (cheaper SMS and free calls from At home and abroad), as well as the simplified option of topping up Cuban mobile phone cards from abroad via the Internet.
Internet access has improved a lot since relations between Cuba and the United States normalized in 2014. In July 2015 the price for one hour of internet access was reduced from 4.50 CUC to 2 CUC. Since then, Cubans have also been allowed to use the ETECSA WiFi HotSpots and are no longer only dependent on the outdated ETECSA Internet terminals. According to official figures, 32.4% of the population had access to internet services in 2016. 5% of households have an internet connection.
- Venezuela submarine cables
A submarine fiber optic cable connection between Venezuela and Cuba, which had been planned since 2008, went into operation a year late in mid-2012. Although it was functional, according to employees of the state telecommunications company ETECSA, according to Venezuelan data, the 70 million euro cable was initially not used for almost two years. The reason given was corruption. Connections with the Arab Spring are also suspected, after which the Cuban regime suddenly feared unregulated Internet access again.
In January 2013, the commissioning of the submarine cable was also confirmed for Internet traffic, after it was initially used for the transmission of international telephone traffic. Since June 4, 2013, Cubans have been able to access the internet at 118 Nauta brand internet cafes at a speed of at least 2 Mbit for 2 CUC per hour. Importing WiFi routers has been made easier.
The cable has around 3000 times the bandwidth of the satellite channels with which Cuba was previously connected to the global data network, runs between the Venezuelan city of Camuri on the sea floor and reaches Cuba in Siboney near Santiago de Cuba . It's 1602 kilometers long - eleven times the shortest possible distance to the continental mainland ( Florida : 144 km). The Cuban government refused to route its Internet traffic through the USA “for security reasons”, although Internet and telecommunications are exempt from the embargo provisions.
Rank of environmental protection
Cuba is one of the first states in the world to include the requirement for environmentally compatible economic development in its constitution. Comprehensive environmental protection legislation in connection with environmental education programs and numerous environmental protection projects contributed to the fact that Cuba was the only country that was certified as "sustainable development" by the WWF in 2003, which means that Cuba had a developed standard of living with a simultaneous ecologically sustainable development. Nevertheless, when in doubt, economic development clearly has priority over environmental policy.
In 2011, 10.4% of the total investment went into environmental protection, the investment amount for this increased from 233 million Pesos in 2006 to 452 million in 2011. The main goals of the investments are the protection of water bodies (68.4%) and reforestation (16.5%).
Success in environmental protection
Due to the oil shortage after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Cuba was forced to undertake many rationalizations and savings. The sharp reduction in private transport, the replacement of machines in agriculture with ox carts, the replacement of obsolete engines in vehicles or new ways of generating energy, for example through solar energy, have greatly improved the ecological balance. The saving measures and reductions in electricity consumption that began in 2005, primarily through state campaigns, e.g. to replace incandescent lamps with energy-saving lamps , are successful. In addition, there is a general scarcity of raw materials, which leads to an extremely low use of packaging materials. The extensive use of chemicals in agriculture has been limited by the lack of imported fertilizers.
Contrary to the global trend, the area of natural forest has increased since 1990. In 2007, Cubans planted 136 million trees. In 2012, 27.3 percent of their island was reforested. By 2015, the forest area should take up 29.3 percent of the island. By comparison, in 1959, 13.6 percent were forested.
Fulfillment of the commitment made in the Montreal Protocol to eliminate 50 percent of the substances that cause serious damage to the ozone layer by the end of 2007 was proven in September 2007 with 74 percent degradation.
According to the Cuban government, the port bay of Havana, classified by the United Nations at the end of 1980 as one of the world's most polluted and no longer salvable, was successfully cleaned, with 17,000 barrels of usable oil being salvaged from the water in the port bay.
Nickel mining in the Moa area on the northeast coast causes particular environmental problems due to inadequately treated contaminated residues. The age of many companies results in a low environmental protection standard and inadequate disposal of industrial waste.
A total of 211 areas in Cuba are under special nature protection. This means that 20 percent of Cuba's surface is ecologically protected. The system of protected areas in Cuba is well developed and divided into different categories:
- Nature reserves
- National parks
- ecological reserves
- special natural objects (Elemento Natural Destacado)
- Reserves for plants (Reserva Floristica Manejada)
- Wildlife Sanctuary (Refugio de Fauna)
- Protected landscape areas (Paisaje Natural Protegido)
- Protected areas for the management of resources (Area Protegida de Recursos Manejados).
In total there are 73 nature reserves in Cuba with different protection status, such as B. 14 national parks and six biosphere reserves Cuba's most famous national park, Parque Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt , is located in eastern Cuba in the provinces of Holguín and Guantánamo.
The 5000 km² wetland on the Zapata Peninsula with dozens of endemic animal and plant species is valued by experts from the United Nations Environment Agency for Latin America and the Caribbean as the best-kept one in the region.
Numerous styles of music and dances emerged in Cuba, some of which were spread internationally. They include the son , the mambo , the salsa , the danzón , the rumba , the cha-cha-cha and the old and new trova ( nueva trova ).
When many South and Central Americans moved to the USA during the Second World War, there was very quickly a slight mixture of Cuban rhythms and jazz . After 1945, Cuban music became very popular in West Africa and influenced highlife .
Towards the end of the 1990s was the film Buena Vista Social Club by Wim Wenders triggered a wave Cuba. In addition to the modern Cuban music that was already internationally widespread, the music of the 1940s became an export hit again. The film reports on Ry Cooder's work with a group of Cuban musicians, almost all of whom had reached retirement age. As a result, the musicians involved released some of their own solo albums, which became international sales successes.
Around 2005 reggaeton , modern Cuban music mostly by youth groups, had a brief, violent boom worldwide . Reggaeton has its origins in Puerto Rico and Panama. Some of these hits with mostly slippery lyrics even appeared in European charts at the time. Only a few months later, at least the global hype was over. Reggaeton style elements were used again and again in the following and influenced numerous international hits, especially in the mid-2010s.
Before the revolution, there was no independent film production in Cuba . The few films that were produced in Cuba mimicked the style of American productions.
In 1959, the Cuban Film Institute Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC) was founded, which initially mainly produced documentaries, cartoons and educational films. Its founding director was Alfredo Guevara , a close confidante of Castro since they were studying together, and who remained the central figure of Cuban film culture until his death in 2013. The poetic short film PM , which documented Havana's nightlife, was banned by the revolutionary censors in 1961 and sparked a debate affecting the entire cultural scene, which Fidel Castro ended with his “Words to the Intellectuals”, in which he emphasized their artistic freedom and his interests Government subordinate. The film I am Cuba , shot in Cuba in 1964, was a Soviet-Cuban co-production with Micheil Kalatosow as director; the Cuban film actors and employees of the film later established an independent Cuban film style. Directors such as Tomás Gutiérrez Alea ( The Death of a Bureaucrat - Muerte de un Burócrata , 1964) and Humberto Solás ( Lucia , 1968) led to international recognition of Cuban film, not only among film buffs . In 1977 the ICAIC produced 10 full-length films and 61 short films within one year . Due to the economic crisis at the beginning of the 1990s, Cuban film and television production was scaled back, so that in the 1990s almost all films financed from abroad, especially from Spain, were made. Noteworthy is the Oscar- nominated film Strawberry and Chocolate (1993) based on a short story by Senel Paz , who skillfully addresses the issue of homosexuality in Cuban society. Only recently has there been an independent Cuban film production again, which continues the traditions of Cuban film with films such as Suite Habana (director: Fernando Pérez , 2003).
The International College for Film and Television in San Antonio de los Baños , co-founded by Gabriel García Márquez , has existed since 1986 and trains students from all over the world, especially Latin Americans and Cubans.
Selection of well-known Cuban writers:
- Reinaldo Arenas (1943–1990)
- Miguel Barnet (* 1940)
- Guillermo Cabrera Infante (1929-2005)
- Onelio Jorge Cardoso (1914–1986)
- Alejo Carpentier (1904–1980)
- Jesús Díaz (1941-2002)
- Pedro Juan Gutiérrez (* 1950)
- Nicolás Guillén (1902–1989)
- José Lezama Lima (1910–1976)
- José Martí (1853–1895): The song Guantanamera by José Joseito Fernández Diaz, based on a poem by the Cuban national poet about a girl from the Guantánamo province, is a folk music classic .
- Leonardo Padura (born 1955)
- Zoé Valdés (* 1959)
- Cirilo Villaverde (1812-1894)
- Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana.
Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish, African and Caribbean cuisine. The recipes have many spices and techniques in common with Spanish and African cuisine, with some influence from the Caribbean in flavor and aroma. But there are big differences. B. on Mexican cuisine. On the other hand, there is a small but notable influence of Chinese cuisine.
Due to historical circumstances, the Cuban population was not evenly distributed on the island. The African slaves made up the majority in the sugar cane plantations, but in most cities they were in the minority. The tobacco plantations were mainly populated by poor Spanish farmers, mostly from the Canary Islands. Large numbers of French, Haitian and Caribbean immigrants also settled in the eastern part of the island, mainly during the Haitian Revolution, as well as seasonal workers for the sugar harvest, while this was not the case in the western part. Instead, it was mainly made up of European immigrants until the 1950s. This is how Cuban cuisine developed under local conditions and specific demographic influences.
For historical reasons, spice mixtures are described in many recipes. Most dishes are based on rice with black or red beans, congrí or moros y cristianos ("Moors and Christians"), the ingredients of which are usually readily available in state shops. The supply situation with other foodstuffs turns out to be difficult, since the state shops have only a very limited supply and are often affected by bottlenecks, and high prices are charged on the free farmers' markets. Many Cubans in the cities get scarce or expensive food, such as meat, through relationships with the rural population or keep small animals on balconies or roofs. In this respect, Cuban cuisine today also varies greatly between country and city.
Tourists staying in the houses of local Cuban families (casas particulares) have the opportunity to try Cuban cuisine by arrangement. In areas frequented by tourists, Cuban restaurants often offer a menu card , the prices of which are in the two currencies CUC and Moneda Nacional. The dishes offered there are often not available and the offer is much more limited than indicated in the menu. The “standards” moros y cristiano and various variants made from chicken are usually available. Alternatives to this are paladares (dt. "Palate"), privately, often in private apartments, operated restaurants that offer rich and varied cuisine, but at prices that are only affordable for foreigners and come close to Western European standards.
In Cuban cities, there are small stalls selling a variety of sandwiches, pizza and Latin American snacks. This is also the way to sell from ground floor windows of apartments. So you get a small, simple but extremely filling pizza for a price of about 5 pesos (about 20 euro cents).
Cuba takes part in numerous international competitions, such as the Summer Olympics and the Pan American Games . The most medal winning sports are baseball , women's judo , wrestling (Greco-Roman), boxing, and athletics . Also noteworthy are the successes in volleyball , handball , freestyle wrestling , art and tower diving , chess , cycling , taekwondo and canoeing . On the all-time medal table of the Pan American Games , Cuba is in 2nd place. The Cuban national soccer team has only taken part in a World Cup finals once.
In April 2017, the Austrian Jacob Zurl was the first to cross the main island of Cuba lengthways in the car-assisted non-stop long-distance cycle racing style.
The Cuban mass media are state property according to Chapter VI, Art. 52 of the 1976 Constitution. The entire media system accordingly also serves the propaganda of the state. The direction and control of the content disseminated through the media is the responsibility of the Ideology Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, headed by Rolando Alfonso Borges. Due to the economic crisis of 1993, the supply of print media (newspapers and books) and cinemas in Cuba has been severely restricted, while other media such as television and the Internet have increased, albeit not to the same extent.
The Cuban press is under the sole control of the government, the Communist Party of Cuba and the communist mass organizations (trade unions, women's federation, etc.). The following Cuban newspapers have the greatest circulation, all of which also have a partially multilingual Internet version. The newspapers and magazines, in spite of their only gradually increasing circulation, have a large number of readers, as they are usually systematically exchanged with one another in the neighborhood and have a de facto monopoly. The following newspapers and magazines are mentioned:
- Granma (Central Organ of the Communist Party of Cuba, PCC)
- Juventud Rebelde (Organ of the Communist Youth UJC)
- Trabajadores (newspaper of the trade union federation CTC)
- Bohemia (weekly magazine)
Independent journalism is consistently pursued. In particular, reports about the situation in Cuba or their distribution to foreign media are strictly prohibited. Critical independent journalists publish their texts on foreign websites such as CubaNet. On the other hand, the government is also trying to prevent citizens from getting information from sources critical of the Cuban economy, Radio Martí , a US government radio station in Spanish, is constantly disrupted and websites are filtered.
In the 2017 press freedom ranking published by Reporters Without Borders , Cuba was ranked 173 out of 180 countries. Two journalists are in custody in Cuba.
There are five state television channels in Cuba ( Cubavisión , the two educational channels Canal Educativo 1 and 2, Tele Rebelde and Multivisión ) that can be received by the entire population via an analog antenna. Almost all Cuban households have television sets, some of them very old. For reception abroad, the Cubavisión Internacional satellite broadcasts a 24-hour program.
The satellite broadcaster telesur has been broadcasting its program for Latin America since July 2005 , in which Cuba has a 19% share. In Cuba itself, only a daily summary of the program was initially shown on Canal Educativo 2 . Since January 2013, the program is in two time slots from 8 am to 16:30 pm and 20:00 to 1:00 at night live broadcast.
Satellite reception and possession of receiving dishes are prohibited for private individuals in Cuba. For tourist facilities such as hotels, a selection of international satellite programs, including DW-TV and CNN , are fed into a national cable television network operated by the state-owned company Telecable . The Spanish-language CNN en Español was removed from the station list in January 2011.
In addition to numerous radio stations with mixed programs and pure music stations, there is, among others, what it claims to be the oldest 24-hour news station Radio Reloj (radio clock) with constant time announcement . As far as technically possible, foreign stations can be received freely (with the exception of the constantly disturbed US station Radio Martí ).
Until the agreement between the USA and Cuba to resume diplomatic relations in 2014, the Internet in Cuba was only accessible under severe restrictions , also for fear of the state losing its media monopoly . As part of the deal, the US pledged to end the embargo on exports of telecommunications equipment and services. The Cuba DATA Act, which was introduced in the US Congress in mid-2015, is intended to create the legal basis for American telecommunications companies to become involved in Cuba. Since then, two US companies, Sprint and Verizon, have announced voice and data services for Cuba.
The beginnings of the Cuban Internet go back to 1994, when a backbone was installed for the whole island with the help of UNESCO , which was only intended to connect doctors to national and international medical databases and is subject to state control. Even today, private internet access is practically non-existent in Cuba. The only exceptions are the aforementioned doctors, scientists and journalists loyal to the government. Otherwise, the Cubans have so far been forced to use public access. These have been expanded significantly since 2015. In addition to the hotel connections, which can cost up to 10 dollars per hour, there has been an increasing number of options to dial into one of the WLAN hotspots. The number started at 35 and reached around 60 by the end of 2015. At a cost of two dollars an hour, the tariff is still beyond what an average Cuban earner with a monthly income of 25 dollars can afford.
In 2011, Cuba was connected to the international fiber optic network from Venezuela via ALBA-1 . Before that, communication was via slow satellite links. The cable did not officially go into operation until two years later. Since then, Cubans' access to the Internet has slowly but steadily improved. Previously it was only possible in tourist hotels to go online for six to ten convertible pesos (CUC), or to write international e-mails on post office computers for 1.50 CUC per hour, now numerous internet cafes have been set up by the state telecommunications company ETECSA where you could go online for 4.50 CUC per hour. The mobile e-mail service Nauta was set up in 2014 , which made it possible to send and receive international e-mails via the mobile data service GPRS . In mid-2015, Nauta was expanded to include WiFi HotSpots in several large cities, where 50 to 100 people can go online at the same time, depending on the level of expansion. In July 2015, the access prices were reduced from 4.50 CUC to 2 CUC per hour. In view of the average Cuban wage of 20 to 25 CUC per month, these remain prohibitive prices for the majority of the Cuban population, who are thus still cut off from the World Wide Net. An offer from Google to provide Cuba with free WiFi antennas was rejected by the government. The aim is therefore not to provide the Cubans with the Internet, but to undermine the revolution. Nevertheless, the number of Internet users in Cuba has risen sharply, especially since the opening of the WLAN hotspots. Above all, Cubans with relatives in the USA and a growing number of employees in the tourism industry have access to foreign currency and can afford internet access with their own tablets, smartphones or laptops.
In 2014, based on ITU data, 27 percent of the population in Cuba had access to the Internet. Most of them only have access to e-mail services and the state intranet. It is estimated that only 5% of the population had access to the international World Wide Web in 2015, which is one of the lowest rates in all of Latin America. In 2011 there were around 7 computers for every 100 inhabitants, but most of them are in state institutions and only 60% are connected to the network.
On the World Day against Internet Censorship (March 12), the human rights organization Reporters Without Borders listed Cuba (in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015, among others) as one of the twelve countries that are considered enemies of the Internet.
In February 2007, Kuba launched the beta version of its own search engine 2x3. 150,000 official pages are available, from the state press to Fidel Castro's speeches. In December 2010 the Cuban wiki-based online lexicon EcuRed was launched with around 20,000 articles showing the official Cuban view of the world.
The government under Raúl Castro has announced that, despite the temporary lifting of the ban on the purchase of computers for private individuals, the restrictions on Internet access will not be removed anytime soon. The main reasons are the limited technical and economic capacities. Most households don't even have a telephone connection. In 2008, restrictions on the purchase and use of cell phones were relaxed.
Cuban law threatens a prison sentence of up to 20 years for posting illegal content on foreign websites. Illegal access to the Internet is punishable by five years in prison. The renowned Computer Science University (UCI) is responsible for the practical implementation of the Internet censorship .
Despite all the restrictions, the Internet has increasingly developed into a medium within Cuba for the exchange of non-governmental information, mainly via e-mail. At the same time, a blogger scene critical of the regime developed from around 2007 . The internationally best known bloggers include Yoani Sánchez , her husband Reinaldo Escobar and Claudia Cadelo . Although the Cuban authorities tolerated that these blogs could be read abroad, access to these blogs within Cuba was blocked until February 2011. Other blogs are Havana Times , published by the American Circles Robinson , with numerous young and older authors from Cuba, Voces Cubanas , edited by Reinaldo Escobar, and La Joven Cuba
However, as the engagement expanded to include the Cuban public, the bloggers also ran into increasing problems with the security apparatus. The range of repression ranged from threats, to short-term arrests, to so-called Actos de Repudio (literally "acts of rejection", but actually it is about intimidation ).
The Cuban government's strategy later changed: around a thousand “revolutionary” bloggers loyal to the government were installed to meet the dissident bloggers. Among other things, they accuse Yoani Sánchez and her colleagues of being paid by the US government. Rumors of bloggers' private lives are also often published with the aim of damaging them. The US is accused of waging a so-called " cyber war " against Cuba. This would not be “bombs and bullets, but with information, communication, algorithms and bytes ”. This is "a new form of invasion emanating from the developed world". The “cyber dissidents” around Yoani Sánchez would be built up as part of this war.
At the end of 2011, a clone of Facebook called Red Social ( social network ) was activated in Cuba . This can only be accessed on the Cuban intranet and is intended primarily to offer students an alternative to foreign social networks on the Internet such as Facebook or Twitter , which, although also widely used by official bodies in Cuba itself, are referred to as part of the so-called "cyber war" against revolutionary Cuba become. The purpose should be to better control the flow of information and to make access to the free information available in these networks more difficult or even to prevent it.
Ignacio Ramonet , who is considered to be close to Fidel Castro and authorized biographer of Castro, also criticized the Cuban population's limited access to the Internet: "Without a sufficiently broad access to the www , the island threatens to lose touch with international developments," says the publisher of Le Monde diplomatique .
Since February 9, 2015, the US online video library Netflix has also been available in Cuba.
The myth of Cuba
All over the world there is a “ myth of Cuba” among many people associated with socialism . The Cuban state is seen as one (umpteen) successful attempt at socialism , which is a role model not only for the “ Third World ” and which must be defended. The Cuban model is also very popular in large parts of South and Central America. Reasons for this are for example:
- The solidarity help Cuba to other countries in the Third World:
- Military aid to defend Angola against the troops of the then apartheid regime South Africa (→ Cuban military operation in Angola ) and subsequent medical and military aid to defend the democratically elected government of Angola against the (from the USA, until the term of office of George Bush Sr. supported by arms deliveries) army of the rebel organization UNITA .
- Support for third world countries with specialists in literacy .
- Engagement in the Movement of the Non-Aligned States during the Cold War .
- Posting of doctors to other countries, e.g. B. to Venezuela , where basic medical care is being set up in the poor neighborhoods as part of the Misión Barrio Adentro , for which Venezuela sells oil to Cuba at a reduced price. At the beginning of 2018 there was a corresponding posting agreement with 35 states and generated annual foreign exchange income of $ 11.5 billion.
- The comparatively high social and educational standards that were achieved after the Cuban revolution.
- The existence of a real revolution, supported by a broad popular movement.
- The conflict with the USA seen as neoliberal and imperialist .
- The fact that Cuba survived the general implosion of the Eastern Bloc .
To the same extent, the Cuban government is clearly rejected by many non-leftists. In the USA in particular , it is a thorn in the side of many as one of the last bastions of communism right on the doorstep. They argue:
- The high social and health standards were subsidized by the Eastern Bloc and no justification for the dictatorship . In addition, they could not be sustained much longer by the relatively weak economy.
- In line with Soviet foreign policy, Cuba's commitment to the Third World consisted for a long time largely of sending military troops.
- Cuba's dictatorship is by no means humane, at most in comparison to the bloody early history of the revolution.
- The Cuban government never gave the Cubans the opportunity to vote on the principles of their policies or even to vote them out; their support from today's population is uncertain.
- The conflict with the United States was evoked by Fidel Castro and kept awake by him because he needed it to justify his repression measures.
Differences of this kind contribute to a very ideologized and difficult argument in the corresponding media .
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- Strawberry and Chocolate , Mexico / Cuba / Spain 1994: internationally award-winning feature film. 'Prisma-online' writes: “Based on the short story of the same name by the well-known Cuban writer Senel Paz - who also wrote the screenplay - an impressive picture of Cuban society was created under the direction of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea , which shows a friendship that also includes socio-political taboos ( this still includes homosexuality in Cuba ). "
- Havanna , feature film 1990: With Robert Redford as Jack Weil , poker player in love in the turmoil before the revolution.
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