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Cuba

Cuba is an island nation with an unelected military government (the regime or nomenklatura) and a large diaspora of emigres waiting for the country to become democratic (demilitarized).

Flag

La Estrella Solitaria, designed in 1848.

Location


Location Maps

Geography

“Cuba is a long but relatively narrow island. About two-thirds of its land surface is covered with fertile plains suitable for cultivation; three principal, heavily forested mountain ranges cover the rest of the country.”
Library of Congress

Geography

Traditional Provinces

Cuba originally had three provinces: Western, Central, and Eastern.

Then for more than 100 years Cuba had six provinces, which are still commonly known. From west to east, these customary provinces were Pinar del Rio, La Habana, Matanzas, Las Villas, Camaguey, and Oriente.

Traditional Province Maps

Pinar del Rio, at the western end, has the best soil for growing tobacco, although tobacco also grows in other provinces.

Oriente, at the eastern end, has forested mountains, rugged hills and desert.


El Caney, Oriente, Cuba, 1901

Thematic Maps

Thematic Maps

Contemporary History

Cuba was a leading developing nation in the middle of the twentieth century, with 80 percent literacy and a growing middle class.

Then in 1952 the candidate who was expected to lose the presidential election staged a coup and cancelled that and all subsequent elections. That unpopular government collapsed in 1959, allowing the present regime to militarize the country.

“As in the former Soviet Union and other socialist countries, Cuba has a system of special privileges for members of the nomenklatura, whose members are referred to on the island as pinchos, pinchos grande, or mayimbes.”
Corruption in Cuba, p. 140

Administrative Units

The military regime split the country into districts (administrative units) which it has registered with the United Nations as the provinces of Cuba. These districts are smaller and more numerous than the customary provinces listed above.

Map of Administrative Units (1986)

The regime lacks technical ability to define ecological regions; that will have to be done outside the country (until demilitarization) by geographers, cartographers, environmental studies personnel, etc. Researchers in other countries are needed to work on identifying ecoregions of Cuba.

Escambray

The regime halted sustainable development in the Escambray area of Las Villas, with troops evicting small-scale farmers (1961–1964), creating “exiles within their own country” (Shetterly, p. 283).

“Small farms…interfered with the implementation of central planning.”

Conquering Nature, p. 89
“Beautiful waterfalls are situated in hidden places [in the Escambray]. Getting to them takes several hours' walk on the steep hillsides of the exuberant forests.”
Sentir Cuba, p. 148
“a projected depository…in the Escambray Mountains…would be to deep-bury radioactive waste from nuclear power plants”
Conquering Nature, p. 208

Maps of the Escambray

Development

Severe environmental destruction is imminent due to corruption. Runoff from golf courses and monocropping will wipe out coral reefs, mines kill forests and birds, unsustainable development pollutes the Cauto Basin, etc.

The military regime lacks technical capability, for example building roads as dikes instead of long bridges in northeastern estuaries, blocking intracoastal water flow.

The regime wants electricity on the island to be generated from a nuclear power plant west of the Escambray, with nuclear waste to be stored in the Escambray, although the plant has not been completed.

Conquering Nature
Sergio Diaz-Briquets and Jorge Perez-Lopez
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000
(online book)

Rule of Law

The military regime does not allow rule of law, instead implementing single-dimensional rule by decree. Decrees are issued by the nomenklatura (ruling class) with the rest of the government subservient (dependent). There are no independent branches of government.

Rule of law includes property rights (including antitrust law), transaction rights (including common carrier law, freedom of association, freedom of contract), due process, equality before the law, etc. There needs to be different branches of government that hold each other into account, in addition to accountability to the population through real elections instead of a nomenklatura.

“state-run monopolies, cronyism, and lack of accountability have made Cuba one of the world's most corrupt states.”
Corruption in Cuba, cover notes.
“a firm that purchases its supplier, thereby removing residual rights of control from the manager of the supplying company, can distort the manager's incentives… if firm i owns firm j, firm i will use its residual rights of control to obtain a large share of the ex post surplus, and this will cause firm i to overinvest and firm j to underinvest.”
Grossman and Hart, ch. 13.
“states undergoing transition that succumbed to rent seeking got stuck in partial reform traps and lagged in economic performance.”
Corruption in Cuba, p. 2

Advocacy of rule of law is prohibited by decree of the nomenklatura, requiring that rule of law be advocated from outside the country.

Hydrology and Agriculture

The long narrow island nation experiences heavy rains that wash out to sea within hours. Studies during the 1950s indicated that, to protect coastal wells, rain runoff should not be diverted.

The military regime, however, diverts water to its large-scale monoculture farms (including export crops for rent seeking), causing salt water intrusion of wells in coastal areas. Those farms also use toxic chemical inputs that contaminate soil and water.

Cuba now imports 80% of its food, as a result of reliance on centralized control of food production.

The country needs to switch to large numbers of small heterogeneous locally-owned (independent) rural farms including crop rotation and polycultures, use less water and chemical inputs, grow different crops including crops for domestic food consumption, grow export crops that require much less inputs (for example, hemp), allow rural diffusion of independent technical people to help small-scale farmers devise water saving and other agroecological technologies (like Tarun Bharat Sangh in India and Desertec RE/Agri in North Africa), etc.

Transportation

Cuba has extensive railroads that connect the cities but are very underutilized and need to be electrified. Rail transportation is much more cost effective and energy-efficient than any other form of transportation. Most of the tracks and track right-of-way predate the military regime, just waiting for development (demilitarization).

Electricity

Electricity is produced by oil-fired power plants near cities, using dirty Cuban and Venezuelan oil (classified as “sour” crude) that causes substantial pollution.

The country needs to switch to solar thermal electricity. Solar thermal electricity generating plants can be set up in central and eastern Cuba, using the same technology that is used in Thailand. And solar thermal electricity can also be delivered from Mexico via HVDC line.

Health Care

The cost of health care in Cuba is comparable to health care costs in other parts of the world, which are much lower than in the United States. Some health care patients from the U.S. who now need to travel to Asia and Europe to find affordable health care will in the future be able to go to Cuba instead, creating substantial economic opportunity for Cuba.

Cuba's pharmaceutical industry recently developed Heberprot-P (not yet available in the US) which reduces the need for advanced diabetic foot ulcer amputations (The Lancet, Vol 383, 2014, p. 295).

The following quotes are from The Lancet, Vol 368, 2006, p. 1323–1324:

“In 1958, Cuba had the 14th lowest infant mortality rate in the world. It is the 31st lowest now.”
– 
Cuban professional
“Infant mortality in Cuba is half what it is in most major US cities.”
– 
U.S. professional
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Saturday, 21-Oct-2017 08:13:14 GMT