Why is Cuba of Special Interest?
Despite the growth of social economy initiatives globally in recent years, such efforts tend to take place on a microeconomic level or in limited geographic settings. Often, such activities do not constitute more than a single digit percent of GNP in any region or nation with a few notable exceptions – Basque country, Spain; Emilia Romagna, Italy; Quebec, Canada.
Cuba is currently undergoing a transformative restructuring of its economic model. Its stated goal is to encourage the development of non state enterprise to improve overall production of goods and services to construct what government leaders call a “prosperous and sustainable socialism”. Their primary goal is to assure continuation of the social benefits of their Revolution, and in turn social equity, while building a viable economy, a feat that has eluded them to date.
Their challenge is nothing less than the construction of a social economy workable for the 21st century on a national scope. Their effort is potentially of great relevance for nations everywhere, because Cuba is coming at these changes from the perspective of 50 years of experimentation with socialism, where community/collective values have held sway. The rest of us are coming from a capitalist orientation when trying to build ‘new economies” whose values put people before profits.
Will it be possible for the Cuban effort to succeed? If it does, what may the rest of us learn?
- “What Can Cuba Do?”, by Revista Temas contributor Rafael Betancourt (April, 2016);
- Cuban Remix, by Stanford Social Innovation Review contributors Julia Sagebien and Eric Leenson (Winter, 2015);