If you were to ask any Cuban a question about their country, the likely answer would be, "It's complicated!" Do people get the same salary regardless of what they do? It’s complicated! Why are there two currencies? It’s complicated! Has the Revolution been successful? It’s complicated! Since the triumph of the Fidel Castro-led Revolution in 1959, the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba has been, well, complicated, and has been constructed as a battle between capitalism and communism. Our policies toward the island have been motivated by the desire to fiercely defend our capitalist state and destroy the communist state that the Cubans established. Cuba policies towards the U.S. have responded in kind, and have been promoted as communist protection from the capitalist enemy to the North. It is perhaps surprising, therefore, that Cubans practice capitalism in their daily life. In fact, the new constitution (approved last February) acknowledges the important role that private capital will play in the country’s future, and allows “private property” for the first time since the country became a communist state.
In this Olio, we will examine the myriad manifestations of capitalism in a 60-year old communist country. We will also discuss how the Cuban state is creating opportunity and responding to the Cuban people’s disenchantment with their communist economy. Concerns over capital accumulation and its impact on civil society and equity guide new Cuban regulations for private businesses, and we will spend some time discussing several examples of how Cubans navigate the new commu-capitalist reality. By the conclusion of this Olio, you will agree… it’s complicated!
Teacher: Teresita Levy
Teresita Levy is an associate professor of Latin American and Latinos studies and the director of the Center for Global Engagement at Lehman College, City University of New York. She earned her Ph.D. in History in 2007 from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and has been at Lehman since then.
Hosted at a member's living room in Park Slope. Address will be sent upon RSVP.