Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) started its Cuba program in 1994 focusing on some of the most important challenges for Cuba and civil society. NPA’s partners mainly work on promoting new forms of social participation, political training, decentralization and food production. Some of the partners also facilitate debate, as the arenas to express criticism and proposals from civil society are few. The program has partners in both Havana and rural areas.
No major political changes has taken place in Cuba since Raul Castro took over the presidency from his brother Fidel. However, recent years have seen a gradual reorganization of the economy including; major reduction in State employment; the migration ban is abolished, increased decentralization; more partly private companies; and public companies are more independent. The government aims to reorganize the economy without sacrificing the social gains from the revolution.
Inequality and vulnerable economy
The financial changes are increasing creating a gap in society as they mainly benefit the elite. Many public employees’ purchasing powers, especially those employed within the health and education sectors, have diminished.
Cuba’s economy is vulnerable. There is a big need for foreign investment but this is prevented due to the US boycott. The largest sources of foreign capital are: export of health workers and tourism.
The state has divided land to cooperatives and farmers but food production remains low due to poor organization and few and small incentives.
State media is still one-dimensional and predictable. There is more public debate and discussion than earlier, especially in social media, but no clear increase in public participation in decision making or consultations.