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Journey to the depths of Cuba

The fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 caused a severe economic crisis on the Caribbean island that many thought would be impossible to overcome. But they did it. Aspects such as how they did it, how they lived and why are set out in a book that must be read.

 

 Natacha Andueza Bosch

 

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union was the start of a period known as the “Special Period”. During this period Cuban society and its economy transformed. The then United Socialist Soviet Republics (USSR) could no longer support the country as it had done for 30 years.

From that point, the economic problems were devastating in sectors such as food, machinery, investments in different areas and combustibles primarily because Moscow was, until that time, the main trading partner with Fidel Castro’s government.

For this reason, Cuba started urgent reforms, mainly in agriculture, and was forced make major overhauls in industry and health and had to implement rationing in the use of hydrocarbons and in any type of consumables that came from abroad.

Helen Yafee

At a time that it could put an end to the socialist model, what it actually did was strengthen it and generate in its inhabitants options for survival.

A book based on old investigations and interviews with leaders, thinkers and Cuban activists delves into this further. It’s called “We are Cuba! How a revolutionary people have survived in a post-Soviet world” and it describes the fight of the Cuban people, examining the domestic initiatives that have been key in terms of the survival of Cuban socialism.

The author of the book is Helen Yaffe, visiting professor at the Latin American and Caribbean Centre in LSE and tenured professor of Economic and Social History at the University of Glasgow. She is also author of “Che guevara: the economics of revolution”, member of Rock Around the Blockade and was one of the first people in the UK to interview Rafael Correa for The Prisma.

Since 1995, Yaffe has spent time in Cuba, living and investigating material for her book which also analyses the ongoing liberalisation reforms, shows why the revolution continues after Fidel Castro and talks about the creation of a biotechnology industry leader in the world, an energy revolution, change towards sustainable development and the internationalisation of Cuban medicine as well as recent economic reforms.

For more information please Yale University Press.

(Translated by Corrine Harries – Email: corrine.harries@ch-translations.com) – Photos from Facebook Event “We are Cuba! How a revolutionary people have survived in a post-Soviet world”.

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