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Questions and answers about Cuba's political and social system – candid and rich in facts – address many issues people have prior to visiting the island (all figures in U.S. dollars). Source :

If Fidel Castro were to die tomorrow, who would succeed him?
Raul Castro, the Senior Vice President of the Council of State would become the President until the next elections. This is because he holds the position of Senior Vice President, and not because he is Fidel Castro's younger brother. In a secret ballot vote taken by the deputies of the National Assembly on February 24th, 1998, Raul Castro received 100% of the votes for the Senior Vice Presidency of the Council of State.

Is Fidel Castro beloved, or secretly despised by the Cuban people?
Fidel Castro will go down in history as the greatest leader of the 20th century. He is loved and admired by the Cuban people because he is a true humanist, dedicated to the cause of Cuban independence. He is as much interested today in the total emancipation of his country as he ever was during the revolutionary struggle of the 1950s.

How do Cubans survive on a salary of less than $15 a month?
The Cuban people are almost totally subsidized by the State. They get free education, free health care, food rations every month, and gas, electricity, and transportation at negligible cost. Almost all Cubans now work for dollars, on the side, to supplement their wages from the State.

How did Cuba manage to survive the collapse of its former patron, the Soviet Union?
When the Soviet Union collapsed, 85% of Cuba's trade disappeared overnight, along with a $6 billion annual subsidy. When Cuba was unable to find financial credits anywhere else, the government implemented a "periodo especial" a (special period) in October 1990, and concentrated its resources and efforts on restricting consumption levels. Buses almost disappeared and people had to wait sometimes 3 to 5 hours for them to arrive. Black-outs ("apagones") lasted for hours on end.

They occurred so frequently that Cubans called the times when there was light, "alumbrones" (brief periods of illumination). There was almost a total absence of food, clothing, footwear, and personal hygiene products. The Cuban standard of living decreased by 34%. The gradual recovery, due largely to the development of the tourist industry, started in 1995 with a 2.5% growth, and continued the following year with a 5% growth. It was a victory for the Cuban people because they had overcome the special period without having to bend their socialistic ideals.

Is there democracy in Cuba?
In Cuba, sovereignty resides in the people. Over 97% of the people eligible to vote, vote in an electoral system which serves to nominate and then elect those best suited to fulfill their position. There are three Assemblies: the Municipal Assembly, the Provincial Assembly, and the National Assembly. In the Municipal Assembly, neighbors nominate their candidates who are finally selected by secret ballot vote by the entire constituency.

The fact that candidates are not nominated by the Communist Party but by the people themselves, itself marks the democratic nature of the process. In the same way, the election of the members for the Provincial and National Assemblies are selected by secret ballot vote by the people directly.

The last electoral process in Cuba began in June 1997 and finished on Feb. 24th, 1998. The previous election took place 5 years earlier, 1992/1993. The election process has two phases: it consists of (1) electing the delegates for the Municipal Assembly, and (2) electing the deputies to the Provincial and National Assemblies.The Cuban Constitution (discussed and created through numerous public meetings and adopted by secret ballot in a referendum in 1976) states, in the First Article of the Electoral System, Article 131, that: "All citizens with the legal capacity to do so, have the right to take part in the leadership of the State, directly or through their elected representatives to the bodies of People Power, and to participate for this purpose and as prescribed by law in the periodic elections and people's referendums through free, equal, and secret vote."

In Cuba, you will find grass-roots democracy never seen anywhere else in the world, where the people themselves nominate their candidates for election. Although there is only one person running for one seat, that candidate must get more than 50% of a secret ballot vote to get elected, or another candidate is nominated for selection.

Even Fidel Castro has to get 50% of a secret ballot vote to represent the electorate. Every candidate nominated faces the electorate on his/her own merit.The Communist Party is forbidden by law to play any role in the elections.

The only publicity allowed candidates is a posted biography with a photograph of the candidate. They are not allowed to spend money on furthering their chances for selection. Neither are State organizations permitted to issue statements favoring any candidate.

What is the National Assembly?
The National Assembly is the body with the highest power in the State, with constituent and legislative authority. Since it has 601 deputies it holds only 2 meetings a year. In its very first meeting it elects 31 of its members to act in its place. This group, called the "Council of State," meets regularly to make changes in the law, to consider domestic and foreign policy, to approve plans for economic and social development of the Nation. At present, the President of the National Assembly is Ricardo Alarcon, and the President of the Council of State is Fidel Castro. Both of these positions were voted by secret ballot by all the deputies of the National Assembly.

Is Fidel Castro a dictator?
Anti-Cuban supporters would have you believe that Fidel Castro is running the country when in actual fact it is the Council of State, of which he is the elected President, that is providing leadership. On February 24th, 1998, Fidel Castro was elected President of the Council of State (all 601 deputies of the National Assembly, by secret ballot vote, chose him to be the President).

Do the Cuban people still get rations every month?
Every Cuban family has a "Libreta de Alimiento." With this libreta, a family can get from their locally designated "bodega," at extremely low prices, rice, beans, sugar, coffee, eggs, chicken, oil, milk, etc. every month. Additionally, the family can get one roll of bread per person daily from their locally designated "panaderia," However, the amounts are barely enough to keep hunger in abeyance, and Cubans have to find ways of buying food from farmers markets where prices are comparatively more expensive: 5 pesos for a pound of rice; 8 pesos a pound of beans; 5 pesos for a bunch of onions; 3 pesos a pound of cucumbers.

Currently a U.S. dollar would buy 27 pesos. From time to time, "ferias," open air street markets, appear where Cubans can buy food and produce at ration book prices. Occasionally, trucks laden with produce from cooperative farms that supply the government with food will appear on a street corner and sell their produce at subsidized prices.

Do most Cubans own their homes or live in rented accommodations?
The majority own their homes. During the urban reforms in the early sixties, those Cubans paying rent to landlords who had fled to Miami, continued to pay the same rent to the State for a period of 5 to 10 years after which time the house or apartment became theirs. Servants who lived in the houses of the rich paid rent to the State and became owners of those homes after a period of years. New homes were bought with a government mortgage for approximately $5,000 (with a 2% to 4% interest rate payable over 20-30 years, paid off at no more than 10% of the chief breadwinner's income).

What do Cubans pay monthly for their utilities?
Gas bills average 2-4 pesos (8-16 cents) a month; electricity 5-7 pesos (20-28 cents) a month; telephone 6-8 pesos (24-32 cents) a month, the first 300 minutes being free. As you can see, all these services are subsidized by the State.

What is a "java" bag?
"Java" is the Cuban word for bag. Because of the shortage and high cost of personal hygiene articles, the State provides all employees in the public service sector with a free bag of toiletries every month. This bag usually contains deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, razors, etc.

What is the "bolsa de empleo"?
If you are working for a government agency and get laid off, your name goes into the "bolsa de empleo" – literally a bag which holds the names of other Cubans also looking for re-employment by the government. "Bolsa" is another word in Spanish for bag.

Why is it so difficult for Cubans to leave the country?
Cubans, like most other Third World inhabitants, see the First World as their main emigration destination. However, the First World confers less and less visas for Third World émigrés, thus stimulating illegal exits. Cubans, like all other Third Worlders, see First World countries as places where people leave food on the side of their plates; where every house has running water; where there is an abundance of money and everyone lives happily ever after.

The Cuban government, in an effort to protect their citizens from themselves, has made it difficult for any Cuban to just pack up and leave the island. There is a process in place for those Cubans who wish to leave Cuba. It begins with an invitation from someone in another country who is willing to sponsor the Cuban. The Embassies of both countries are involved and the sponsoring party must be able to support and take care of that Cuban while he/she is away from Cuba. The process takes time and money, approximately 3 to 4 months and $500.

Is it true that you can buy Coca-Cola in Cuba despite the American embargo?
There is an indirect U.S. business presence in Cuba despite the 40-year-old embargo. Cuba buys about $10 million worth of Coca-Cola every year from the Atlanta based company. It is obtained from Mexico where it is bottled, independent of the soft drink giant's home base in the U.S. Despite the embargo, Americans are trading with Cuba. American corporations go through foreign partners or purchase stakes in foreign companies to trade.

In 1994, the U.S. Treasury Department permitted American companies to profit from the Cuban holdings of their partners. For instance, in 1997, a subsidiary of Bank America Corporation bought a 26% interest in Leisure Canada, a Vancouver-based resort developer. The California-based DHL Worldwide ships packages to Cuba through its Belgium office. In 1998, Citibank in New York bought Banco Confia, a commercial bank in Mexico, to handle credit-card transactions in Cuba. American Airlines is in partnership with British Airways and Iberia both of whom make regular flights to Cuba.

Will Americans ever totally lift the embargo?
The embargo stands as the last vestige of the Cold War. It was put in place by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. It survives largely through the political influence of the vocal Cuban exiles in Miami. The USA trades with Vietnam, Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea, but not with Cuba. The Clinton Administration, in January 1999, eased the embargo with 49 pages of new rules.

The adjustments benefited Cuba. Western Union was permitted to resume service for the first time in 38 years, and Americans can now send money to their relatives in Cuba. Also, a charter air service to Havana is now permitted to fly out of Miami and New York, and Los Angeles by the spring of 2,000. Approximately 55,000 Americans travel to Cuba illegally every year, flying through other countries. In 1999, 130,000 Americans visited Cuba legally with a license from the U.S. Treasury Department.

Which countries are presently investing in Cuba?
According to the US-Cuba Trade & Economic Council in New York, investment dollars between 1990-1999 in Cuba were as follows: Canada $600 million; Mexico $450 million; Italy $387 million; Spain $100 million; UK $50 million; France $50 million; Netherlands $40 million; Chile $30 million; Brazil $20 million; Portugal $10 million.

Cubans seem happy and content despite their hardships. Why is that?
There is a contentment in suffering when it is shared by most and is borne of struggle and survival. Poverty brings in its wake a focus not felt by people who are well off. The poor have fewer problems because they have fewer choices: life is reduced to the simplest of pleasures, the purest of values (values other people overlook or take for granted).

These include listening to people because you have the time; talking to people because you have a desire to communicate; caring for others because you know what it feels like to be uncared for; helping someone in trouble because you know you should. In Cuba there is still an extended family; television doesn't rule; conversation is still an art form; and people are still involved in each others' lives.

Cubans are an educated people who have the ability to accept all things as they are. They want for nothing except more of what they don't have. They enjoy a simple meal, a conversation with a friend, an intimate time with a loved one sitting on the wall of the Malecon (the seaside boulevard in Havana). They are not distracted by the many things First Worlders are so dominated by.

They don't have mortgages like millstones around their necks; they don't live on credit; they don't suffer the emotional stresses of a life filled with fear. Cubans enjoy the present without fearing the past, ever hopeful of a better future.

Is there much corruption in Cuba?
There is not a lot of corruption in the government. Representatives have a high respect for their offices and a responsibility to their electorate. In the business sector there is a lot of corruption, particularly among middle-managers, managers, and supervisors. Cuba has insufficient financial systems in place to keep stealing in check, always a problem when you have a cash business, and Cuba must have hard money (cash) to buy what it needs on the international market. Update : see our page Typical Scams.

Are CDRs (Committees for the Defense of the Revolution) part of a spy network?
In 1960, Committees for the Defense of the Revolution were established to make sure that counter-revolutionaries were flushed out of the community. From 1960-1965 there were lots of counter-revolutionaries still living in Cuba, killing people, planting bombs, destroying harvests, burning down buildings, etc. CDRs were formed to find out, with the help of informants, who and where these people were.

After 1965 they continued as community based organizations meeting the needs of the locals. There is a CDR on almost every other block. They are slowly shedding the stigma of the 1960's when their main function was to spy on the community. Today the CDRs fulfill a similar role as coop or condo boards with a political and social focus.

Is Cuba's younger generation dissatisfied with the present situation in Cuba today?
Like youth everywhere in the world, the young tend to forget all too easily what their elders went through to achieve their present day freedoms. Of course the youth in Cuba envy the lifestyles they see portrayed in U.S. movies. Naturally they want to do as they please.

But they live in a socialistic country, which places the collective good of the people before personal initiatives and individuality. To achieve this, people have to give up some personal freedoms for a measure of regulation and control. This is not always easy for young people to do.

Is there a counter-revolutionary movement in Cuba today?
Yes, there is a counter-revolutionary movement in Cuba. It is funded by the National Foundation of Cuban Americans in Miami, which recieves funding from the CIA. However, one of the most noteworthy observations to come out of the 1997/98 elections was the failure of the counter-revolutionaries in Cuba to increase their numbers. Counter-revolutionaries register their opposition to the political system in Cuba by casting a blank vote, or a spoiled vote at election time.

In the last election, there was a significant decline in the protest vote, this despite the enormous pressure put on the electorate, via Radio Marti, to deposit blank or spoiled votes. In the National Assembly elections, the number of valid votes increased from 92.97% in 1993, to 94.98% in 1998. While the percentage of blank votes rose only slightly from 3.04% in 1993, to 3.36% in 1998, there was a significant decrease in the percentage of spoiled votes, from 3.99% in 1993, to 1.66% in 1998.

The results of the 1998 election were even more striking in the city of Havana where one would expect more opposition. The percentage of spoiled votes declined by one third, from 10.34% in 1993, to 3.42% in 1998. In 1998, there were 4.15% blank votes in the capital city, thereby making the total protest vote in Havana 7.57% (3.42%+4.15%). Nationally, the protest vote in 1998 was only 5.02%.

Of those eligible to vote in Cuba, what percentage do?
In the election of the National Assembly in 1998 in Havana, 97% of the eligible voters registered a vote, the lowest voter turnout on the island. This is quite significant when compared to the rest of the world where voter turnout is barely 50%.

Do you see graffiti or any anti-government protest words scribbled on walls in Cuba?
None, and that's not because the words are erased as soon as they are written!

How are gays treated in Cuba?
Because Cubans are an educated people, discrimination against any persuasion is intolerable. Even "pingeros," boys who go with gay tourists for money, are accepted. They openly congregate in front of the "Yara" cinema (La Rampa), or at the "Fiat Cafeteria" (on the Malecon) every night looking for male customers. Unlike most other places in the world, it is hard to label people's sexual proclivities in Cuba.

How are HIV and AIDS patients treated in Cuba?
Reports would have you believe that HIV/AIDS patients in Cuba are quarantined in asylums against their will. This is not true. Patients go to sanatorias (the English translation of sanatorium for sanatoria is inaccurate here) first and foremost to receive information and education about how to deal with their ailment and then treatment. It is true that there is some obligation on the part of the patient to do this, and is done to reduce the spreading of the disease.

At the same time, the sanatoria offers the patient the best environment for therapy, nutrition, and medication. Patients are allowed to go out week-ends and to leave permanently after 3 months. At the Havana Tropical Medicine Institute patients get the best treatment available from psychologists, psychiatrists, epidemiologists, internal medicine specialists, social workers, and nurses. The disease, unfortunately, is spreading like wild-fire in all Third World countries, in the heterosexual community mostly, with Cuba being no exception.

Telling stats, added Oct 05 : In the year 2001, 15,000 Americans died of AIDS. In the same year, only 120 Cubans died of AIDS. If Cuba were as large as the USA population wise, 3,000 Cubans would have died of AIDS in 2001. 3,000 Cubans compared to 15,000 Americans.

Is abortion permitted in Cuba?
Abortion is allowed in Cuba, but the Ministry of Public Health goes to great lengths to ensure that women do not consider pregnancy intervention as a way of stopping the birth of unwanted children. The Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), an organization for women over 14 years of age, fights for women's rights to equality in Cuba. The organization actively targets adolescents for sexual education which includes the right of the woman, with the help of her partner, to make the choice of whether or not to abort the fetus.

Two internationally recognized indicators of a country's well-being are its infant mortality and life expectancy rates. What are Cuba's?
Before the Revolution, in 1958, Cuba's infant mortality rate stood at 60 per 1000 live births (over 100 per 1000 in rural areas). By 1998, infant mortality had been reduced to 7.1 per 1000 live births (the same rate in rural areas). Mortality for children between 1 and 5 years of age was only 9.2 per 1000 children.

Cuba's health care system is responsible for these incredible statistics, more amazing when you consider that in other Latin American regions the infant mortality rate is 33 per 1000 live births, and a mortality rate of 55 per 1000 children between 1 and 5 years of age. Since the Revolution, Cuba's life expectancy rate has risen 13.2 years, to 75 years of age, matching First World countries

What is the black market?
Anything and everything can be bought on the black market in Cuba at very low prices. Like black markets everywhere about everything has been stolen. Somebody, somewhere, will know where to find something you want on the black market. It is simply a question of asking around.

Is Cuba's educational system as good as people say it is?
In 1999, the Latin American Laboratory for the Evaluation of Educational Quality (LLECE) tested 4,000 students in third and fourth grades in 100 randomly selected schools in 14 Latin American countries. Cuba's Elementary Education came out on top. The Cuban children scored 350 points on a scale of 400. Despite the economic blockade, the State maintained free education with a 1,585 billion pesos educational budget in 1999.

School enrollment is 100% on the elementary level, and 95% on the secondary level. There is one teacher per 40 children compared to one per 103 in the world. While in 1959 Cuba had only 3 Universities, it now has 47 which have graduated 600,000 students. In 1953, less than 50% of Cuban children went to school, over 30% of the population was illiterate, and 10,000 of the existing 25,000 teachers were unemployed.

Now, every child has access to free education, remains in school through 6th grade, and then continues on with secondary education. In most Latin American countries 50% of all enrolled children leave by 4th grade.

How much oil and gas is being produced in Cuba?
1998s oil production in Cuba was 1.678 million tons, a new record for the island; and 117 million cubic meters of gas were used. Favorable results are being produced because of Cuba's association with French, Canadian, British, and Swedish companies, the application of modern technology in prospecting and drilling, and the signing of risk exploration contracts covering 22 of the 45 blocks of Cuba's prospective sources of oil. At present (1999), the island has 270 wells producing 35,000 barrels a day.

How much food does Cuba produce itself?
There have been real advances over the last 3 years in food production in Cuba. The focus of the food industry is to replace the imports for tourists (Cuba buys rice from Vietnam, wheat from France, meat from Argentina and New Zealand, and produce from Mexico, Spain, China, the Netherlands, and Canada), as well as to improve the supply to the population.

In 1998, production totaled 1.2 billion pesos, a 9% growth over 1996. However, these figures are not up to the figures registered in 1989 before the collapse of the Soviet Union. But a 5% growth in 1999 brought Cuba closer to the 1989 levels of food production. Production for tourism and dollar stores has been increasing at an annual rate of 24% since 1994. Sales for 1999 were over $230 million, a 36% increase over the previous year.

What is crime like in Cuba?
The criminal rate is extremely low in Cuba. A high percentage of crimes committed are robberies against private property. Robberies amount to 70% of all crimes committed in Cuba, 60% of which are against property. Breaking and entering occurs in 10% of all cases and violence is used in less than 2%. 90% of murder cases stem from personal problems between the murderer and the victim, at a time when either one or both were intoxicated. Less than 10% was due to an attempt for financial gain. Drug cases, mostly smoking marijuana and using pharmaceuticals, is still relatively low.

Why are Cubans so tolerant and law-abiding?
Harsh jail conditions certainly act as a deterrent for would-be lawbreakers. Also, Cubans are a patient breed of people who control their tempers very well. They are non-reactive and accept most things, taking them in their stride. Their attitude is "why worry about something you can't change."

Cuba is like a large school with rules and regulations, and a prefectorial system (the Cuban police) in place to maintain order. The rules and regulations are there to set conditions for the majority to live in peace and comfort. Everybody, from a very young age, knows what is expected of him/her, in particular in his/her community, and in general in Cuba, so he/she conforms to the collective good.

Are offenses against tourists in Cuba considered serious?
The sugar industry, once the main generating source of income on the island (now producing less money due to the drop in sugar prices from 13.28 cents a pound in 1995 to about 6 cents now) has been overtaken by the tourist industry as the most important source of money.

Therefore, any offense against a tourist is serious and likely to result in a jail sentence. Cuba has become so dependent on tourism that the State will not tolerate any infraction by a Cuban that could hurt the industry.

Can you buy property in Cuba?
You can buy property from "CUBALSE," a Cuban company that specifically deals with selling or renting property to foreigners. Prices are at international rates, not bargain basement.

For how much is Cuba suing the USA?
The people of Cuba are demanding that the U.S. pay them $181.1 billion for the loss of Cuban lives and the injuries of individuals since the Revolution (over 3,000 dead and over 2,000 injured), and for numerous acts of aggression towards the State since then.

Is the issue for Americans really opposition to Fidel Castro or "one-party rule"?
Cuba has had to overcome fierce anti-communist propaganda from the U.S. In an attempt to discredit Socialism in the eyes of the world, the U.S. State Department published an article in January 1998, which stated that, "Cuba is a totalitarian State controlled by President Fidel Castro, who is chief of State, head of government, first secretary of the Communist Party, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

President Castro exercises control over all aspects of Cuban life through the Communist Party and its affiliated mass organizations, the government bureaucracy, and the State security apparatus. The Communist Party is the only legal political entity, and President Castro personally approves the membership of the Politburo, the select group that heads the Party. The Party controls all government positions, including judicial offices." The article is of course not true.

Why does Cuba maintain a one-party state?
The USA has ignored the 1992/93 and the 1997/98 elections in Cuba and chooses to believe that Cuba is a dictatorship led by one man, Fidel Castro. That Cuba has a one-party rule is undeniable. It is a one-party rule with a difference – the participation of the people in the decision-making processes. The Communist party is not a substitute for the people but serves to strengthen the power of the people. On the rare occasion that the U.S. recognizes the electoral system in Cuba, the U.S. complains that only one person runs for an individual seat.

This is true, but what the U.S. fails to appreciate is that, that person has to get over 50% of a secret ballot vote to be elected, even Fidel Castro. Is it therefore better to have more than one pre-selected candidate in a run-off for a seat, spending endless amounts of money to persuade voters to choose from among them, or one candidate, chosen by the community, requiring 50% of the vote? The facts of the matter are that three generations of Cubans have fought unceasingly against the richest, most powerful nation ever to have existed in the history of humanity, and has succeeded in steadfastly resisting it. The U.S. is not happy about the present gains made in Cuba. It has been unsuccessful in supplanting the Cuban government as it now exists despite numerous aggressions over the last 40 years. If Vietnam was an embarrassment to the USA, Cuba is her shame

Is "machismo" disappearing in Cuba?
Unlike most Latin Americans, Cuban men are involved much more in the home, and take a greater part in the nurturing of their children. There is a sharing of responsibility among the sexes because Cuba has a very strong women's movement that has insisted on full equal rights for women. Consequently, Cuban men do not look down on Cuban women; they do not treat them as second-class citizens, or feel superior to them, all the regular trade marks of machismo.

Is unemployment high in Cuba?
Estimates for Havana suggest up to 4% of city dwellers lack full-time jobs due largely to the U.S. economic blockade which prevents raw materials from reaching the island which in turn prevents the development of industry. Unemployment is lower in rural areas. Many agricultural enterprises seek workers.

Does a divorce really cost only $5 in Cuba?
A divorce usually takes about 3 months in Cuba and costs $5. Everything is split equally between the separating couple. If there are children involved, the ex-husband has to pay 10% of his wages as alimony, and usually leaves the house so that his ex-wife and children can live in it. If he does not make the alimony payments every month, he is put in jail.

Why do Cubans call informers "chivatos"?
The word comes from the Spanish word, "chivo," meaning goat. This is because a goat bleating sounds like an informer blabbing his mouth: bla…bla…bla…

What is a "guardabolso"?
In order to keep shop-lifting to a minimum, Cubans are not allowed to carry shopping bags into stores where customers can handle merchandise. Shoppers must check in their shopping bags at the "guardabolso," usually found adjacent to the actual store, before entering. This rule also applies to tourists. There are some shops where the merchandise is behind display counters and shoppers are permitted into these without having to check their bags in at the "guardabolso."

Is there racism in Cuba?
Cuba's struggle against racism is unmatched anywhere else in the world. "Negros," "mulatos," "triguenos," and "blancos" mix well, but, of course, there are always a few who carry prejudices deep in their hearts, even in Cuba.

What was "Rectification"?
"Rectification" was for Cuba what 'Glasnost' and 'Perestroika' was for Russia. The only difference was that it worked in Cuba and not in the Soviet Union. By 1986, the Cuban government knew that things were not right, that their system was not working. It was manifested in breeding domestic problems, popular discontent, and mass corruption. Foreign debt was increasing, a hard currency crisis was imminent, and Ronald Reagan, then the U.S. President, had taken a more aggressive stance against Cuba. Something had to be done.

A year long discussion, involving the Cuban population, took place all over Cuba to identify and solve Cuba's problems. The "Rectification" program implemented in 1987 came just in time for Cuba. It not only gave the State the opportunity to put their house in order but also the strength, two years later, to survive the demise of the Soviet Union.

On same subject, from
Mark Cramer, Culture Shock:Cuba, Times Editions, 1998
"The dramatic scenario of one of the word's best-educated populations struggling to survive under socialism after the 1991 implosion of the socialist bloc was bound to create an unprecedented test of will for the nation. Drama is an understatement.

Never have I been in a country whose atmosphere of daily life is so charged with powerful and contradictory emotions. No visitor can remain unmoved, and many are moved to bitter-sweet tears that blend sublime joy with overwhelming pathos.

On any and every day or night of the year, you may walk out onto the streets and experience overlapping feelings of utopian optimism and intense disillusionment.

Note Most data in the above FAQ was gathered in the late 90's.
Doing business in Cuba article here

Updates & Additions by Webmaster

What was/is the status of women in Cuba?
Though many women showed their loyalty to their country during the trying times in Cuba, success did not come quickly. In 1959, before the Cuban Revolution, 9.8% of women in Cuba held jobs, with 70% of those women working as domestic servants. Oddly enough, women in the working class were often thought of as poor individuals, and were regarded as a lower status than women who did not work.

Fidel Castro played a significant role in liberating women in Cuba during the Revolution. He didn't, however, encourage women to work full-time jobs and raise families at home, since he insisted men would help with the housework and raising children. This wasn't exactly the case in many Cuban families. Prior to the Revolution, Castro claimed that many young women depended on marriage to men of higher status in order to get along in life. A majority of those who did not marry ended up in brothels. In 1959, with 7 million people populating Cuba at the time, about 100,000 women worked in some form of prostitution.

In order to win over supporters for the Revolution, women had to be considered as equals. Fidel Castro's move to put women in the workplace proved to be a success. In 1959, less than 200,000 women worked in Cuba. By 1990, with a population of 10 million in Cuba, women accounted for 39% of the workforce, and 58% of them were in technical positions. In addition, 55% of university students were women, and they also accounted for the majority of medical students in Cuba. In a period of less than half a century, women's employment increased almost 400%.
Source : Fidel!: Castro's Political & Social Thought by Sheldon B. Liss, Westview Press 1994

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Updated 29.02.2012