Socialist Cuba in Transition: Finding a Foothold in Globalization’s Economic Chaos

By Nancy Lynch Street.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In July 2008, I visited Cuba with an educators’ group. In Havana, Cienfuegos and Trinidad we met with students, educators and administrators from every level of the Cuban system, including American students studying medicine at Cuban government expense. I begin with a brief overview of the colonial period, which included (in 1774) some 44,333 black slaves. Slavery was abolished in 1886; colonialism lasted until 1959 when Fidel Castro and Ché Guevara overcame the US-backed government of Batista. Their socialist revolution during the Cold War offended the United States, which then declared an embargo on Cuba—which many nations disregarded. In 1960, Cuba began its medical diplomacy by sending a medical team to Chile. By 2005, Cuban medical personnel were collaborating in 68 countries. “Today, over 10,000 developing country scholarship students are studying in Cuban medical schools.” After Hurricane Katrina, Fidel Castro offered medical help. Ignored, the embargo remains. However, news reports indicate that US food sales to Cuba soared “61% in 2008.” The fall of the Soviet Union contributed to the Cuban “special period” of the 1990s. This period required: a struggle for survival, introducing measures to contain the crisis (e. g., “shared scarcity”); changes in international financial arrangements; and, “the third agrarian reform.” Foreign trade regulations were revised. By the 21st century more than “700 representatives of foreign firms” were in Cuba. By 2009, Cuba had developed relationships with, amongst many others: China, Mexico, Canada and the Rio Group (22 Latin American and Caribbean nations). As the globalized world tilts in 2009, relationships will alter. Oversight and regulation of global financial policies are under scrutiny. In the North/South divide, the more socialist South may gain credibility given the capitalistic globalization debacle created by the North.

Keywords: Cuba, Education, Medicine, Socialism, Globalization

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp.85-96. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.256MB).

Dr. Nancy Lynch Street

Professor, Communication Studies Department, Bridgewater State University, South Easton, MA, USA

Dr. Nancy Lynch Street is a full professor of Communication Studies at Bridgewater State University (BSU), Bridgewater, MA. Over the past thirty years, Street has served twice as the Exchange Professor from BSU to Shanxi Teacher’s University in Linfen, in addition to numerous other China-related projects in the United States and in China. She has received two Fulbright Study Group awards (to Taiwan, South Korea and the PRC) and one Fulbright Senior Specialist grant to consult with Beijing Jiaotong University. In addition to developing curriculum, with emphasis on theory, Intercultural Communication and Globalization, Street has served as Graduate Coordinator, Department Chairperson and Coordinator of the Center for Research and Learning (CART). She has also traveled throughout Greece, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Russia, Scandinavia, Mexico and Cuba. Using participant observation, interviewing and ethnography she has co-authored multiple books on China, war and film and social change. Her first book, In Search of Red Buddha: Higher Education in China After Mao Zedong, 1985-1990 was reissued in 2004. Currently, Dr. Street’s latest book (co-authored with Dr. Marilyn Matelski of Boston College, entitled Web of Confucius was issued in 2009.

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