What does the Cuban economy depend on?

"That brought a lot of movement into Cuban society"

With the historic meeting of foreign ministers, Cuba and the USA are drawing closer together. Cubans counter this with a mixture of eternal hope and constant fear, says Cuba expert René Zeyer.

You have known Cuba for decades and travel there regularly. How did you experience Cuba on your last visit? I was in Havana when diplomatic relations were announced in December and came back three weeks ago. After fifty years of strict state socialism, Cubans have for some time been allowed to run small businesses on “cuenta propia” on their own account, and trade in houses or cars for the first time. That brought a lot of movement into society, the streets have become more colorful, there is haggling and tinkering. On the other hand, more than 80 percent of all working people are still state employees at an average wage of 500 pesos, around 20 francs a month. Despite the free health and education system, partially subsidized food and free housing, this demands complicated survival strategies from every Cuban. At the same time, for the first time since the victory of the revolution in 1959, the gap between clever and well-paid Cubans and the masses is widening.

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