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People wait to enter a wholesale market in Havana, Cuba People wait to enter a wholesale market in Havana, Cuba, July 31, 2020 (AP photo by Ismael Francisco).

Cuba’s Economic Crisis Is Spurring Much-Needed Action on Reforms

Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020

Cuba’s economy was already struggling before the coronavirus pandemic, due to persistently poor domestic productivity, declining oil shipments from Venezuela and the ratcheting up of U.S. sanctions. But now, the closure of the tourist sector due to COVID-19 has thrown Cuba into a full-fledged recession, deeper than anything since the economic crisis of the 1990s that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union—what Cubans know as the “Special Period.”

Perhaps paradoxically, the downturn also appears to have broken a logjam of disagreement among Cuba’s senior leaders and accelerated the implementation of economic reforms. Reforms entail risks, President Miguel Diaz-Canel told the Council of Ministers this summer, but “the worst risk would be in not changing and in losing popular support.” ...

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