The USA’s blockade continues to strangle the country’s economic prospects. Since 2011, the Cuban authorities have been undertaking a gradual socio-economic process of change, in which the government cautiously encourages private entrepreneurism and foreign investment, and reduces its control over the economy. There is a stream of people moving from the public to the private sector as public employees find their purchasing power diminishing, while those with access to foreign exchange have more to spend.
In 2018, the country got its first main leader after the revolution not to bear the name of Castro, Miguel Díaz Canel. In 2019, a new Constitution was approved, which, among other things, limits presidencies and party leadership to two terms, decentralises a range of government functions and strengthens citizens’ rights in accordance with international agreements. Although Cuba has the highest degree of gender equality in America related to education and work, the percentage of women in leading positions remains low.
There is more room for public debate than was previously the case, particularly in social media, but no noticeable difference when it comes to popular participation in decision-making processes. The state media continues to be one-dimensional. More than 80% of food is still imported. Food production remains low owing to organisational problems and the lack of technological equipment, while the internal market appears insufficient to stimulate local food production. The country has an extremely good emergency response system to deal with natural disasters, but climate change is a threat to food production in the future.
Cuba is still a powerful progressive symbol for many organisations in Latin America. Cuba’s disinterested international solidarity programmes, e.g. on health and disaster relief, despite the country’s serious economic constraints, has contributed to maintaining this sympathy.
Norwegian People’s Aid has had a programme in Cuba since 1994. Most organisations in Cuba are linked to the national government in one way or another. This also applies to most Norwegian People’s Aid partners. Our partners are associations working in the agricultural sector, universities, local authorities and non-governmental organisations.
The high degree of centralisation does not provide much scope for civil society organisations to influence national policies. Our partners’ influence is thus primarily channelled through support of decentralisation processes, promoting new methods of social participation and publishing informative material for reflection and discussion. Among other things, our partners are involved in community work and cultural activities, helping to ensure that public bodies use participative methods in their training programs, and promote local information and communication policies. Some partners also work to increase sustainable food production and strengthen newly established cooperatives outside the agricultural sector.
The programme forms part of NPA’s cooperation agreement with Norad and is supported by NNN.
NNN (Norwegian Food and Nutrition Workers' Federation)