When the Soviet Union fell, imploded or was pushed into failure,
whichever one or combination of these makes sense to the reader,
the island found iself compelled to reorder its priorities and to
find other ways to secure its independence. Tourism was one option.
Dollar legalization was another. Each were steps taken at specific
moments for deliberate purposes. Each had a mixture of positive as
well as negative consequences. In his recent discussions, Fidel has
reviewed some of these changes, and new ones which are either being
implemented or planned. All of these combined are part of projects
to bring about what Jose Marti referred to as a "society of all and
for the benefit of all", and in a changing world context in which
globalization and internationalism are interlinked. The ideas Cuba
projects about "globalizing solidarity" and Marti's conception also
that "Patria es humanidad" ("Homeland is humanity")indicate what the
island's direction of motion is today. While in the sixties armed
guerrilla struggle was a vital part of Cuban strategy, through the
seventies and eighties Cuba's military activities took another turn,
with a large Cuban army playing a vital role defending Angola from
the assault by South Africa's apartheid regime, backed by the U.S.
Here in Cuba we've been marking the 30th anniversary of Cuba's big
military participation in Angola's successful defense. At the same
time, Cuba's internationalism today takes such forms as the medical
aid teams working in Latin America, Asia and Africa, now under the
name "Henry Reeve Contingent", named after a U.S. citizen who fought
and died in the struggle for Cuban independence. Washington, in its
foolish pride, declined Cuba's offer to send these doctors to work
in Louisiana and Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina, but these
doctors have plenty of other work to do. CubaNews has given emphasis
to the contingent's work in Pakistan in recent weeks. Through this
Cuba has made many new friends in that part of the world. We've also
found new outlets for CubaNews through several new outlets there to
post reports on the Cuban doctors.
Here are two additional dimensions to Cuba's projects which might be
roughly called national reconfiguration. Most outside observers, and
among them many on the political left, were either dubious of or else
downright hostile toward the earlier steps Cuba took to secure its
independence. Tourism, some sneered, "bad, bad, bad", brings so many
bad values into the country. Dollarization, they said, would bring a
process of social differentiation to the country, which it certainly
did. Yet by careful management, and ABOVE ALL by not operating with
a pre-conceived plan for national development in a changing world,
this country has been able to both survive and to begin to proper
these most challenging times.
This opposition to preceived schemes was one of the themes which
Fidel emphasized in his November 17th Aula Magna discussion:
"Here is a conclusion I've come to after many years: among all the
errors we may have committed, the greatest of them all was that we
believed that someone really knew something about socialism, or that
someone actually knew how to build socialism. It seemed to be a sure
fact, as well-known as the electrical system conceived by those who
thought they were experts in electrical systems. Whenever they said:
"That's the formula", we thought they knew.
"But we must be idiots if we think, for example, that economy is an
exact and eternal science and that it existed since the days of Adam
and Eve, and I offer my apologies to the thousands of economists in
"All sense of dialectics is lost when someone believes that today's
economy is identical to the economy 50 or 100 or 150 years ago, or
that it is identical to the one in Lenin's day or to the time when
Karl Marx lived. Revisionism is a thousand miles away from my mind
and I truly revere Marx, Engels and Lenin.
"In our real world, which must be changed, every revolutionary
tactician and strategist has the obligation to conceive of a strategy
and a tactic that will lead to the fundamental objective, to change
the real world. No divisive tactic or strategy can be a good one."
Read Fidel's full comments here:
Cuban gov't website (one column):
Word Format, 33 pp. (two-column)
Beneath this article on Cuba's role as an IT outsourcing option for
Canadian are two more short articles from TRABAJADORES, the weekly
paper of the CTC, the Cuban national trade union confederation with
additional points on the steps the island is taking to transform its
economy. The trends toward a service economy and greater integration
into the broader world economy aren't new, but the clarity with which
they are being carried out and explained here are new. They help us
to see the developing situation in a more complete manner as we keep
in mind the economic successes Cuba's expanding ties to Venezuela,
China and Vietnam help secure.
Walter Lippmann, CubaNews
Cuba fast becomes a hotbed for IT outsourcing
By DAVID PYE
Thursday, December 8, 2005 Posted at 8:43 AM EST
Special to The Globe and Mail
HAVANA - Despite being one of the world's last standing communist
regimes, Cuba has proved masterful at reinventing its economic
priorities in troubled times.
The latest transformation is an IT revolution that is positioning the
country as an attractive outsourcing option for Canadian companies,
and as a natural gateway to the Latin American market.
Since 1991, Cuba's information technology sector has been developing
at warp speed and now consists of about 45,000 highly skilled
workers, 38 per cent of whom have specialized degrees. More than 85
per cent of the country's IT industry is concentrated in technical
services and software development.
"We've been investing in this sector for the last 14 years and we now
have highly skilled IT workers at every level," says Luis Marin,
general manager of Avante, the marketing arm of Cuba's Ministry of
Information Technology and Communications. "IT doesn't require a lot
of investment . . . except in human resources."
Canada is Cuba's third-largest trading partner and fourth-largest
foreign investor, with more than $750-million tied up in the island
nation. Cuban officials and the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service
won't say how much of that investment is tied directly to technology,
but government authorities are actively seeking Canadian investment
in the form of outsourcing projects and joint venture opportunities.
Cuba is particularly interested in joint ventures that will enhance
the local infrastructure, while transferring skills to citizens. It
wants to attract Western partners who can teach more about the
standards and demands of the international market.
Cuba's Centresoft Corp. and Cimex Corp., for example, have partnered
with Sentai Software Corp. of Edmonton and Indcom Trading Co. of
Orleans, Ont., to create an international software consortium called
CubaSoft Solutions Inc. CubaSoft is recruiting Cuban IT talent to
work on projects for the Canadian companies and is also developing
domestic IT projects.
"IT is among the main investment opportunities in Cuba for Canadian
companies right now," says Raciel Proenza, economic counsellor with
the Cuban embassy in Ottawa. "It's a high-priority sector because it
also contributes to the development of our country."
The catalyst for bolstering the sector has been Cuba's commitment to
education. An hour north of Havana, the University of Information
Sciences boasts 6,000 students on a high-tech campus ringed by fibre
optics. The institution produces 2,000 graduates annually who, along
with computer science grads from the mathematics faculty of the
University of Havana, are leading Cuba's IT revolution.
"These people are very well educated and offer an outsourcing option
that I think we need to take a look at," one Canadian insider says.
"I can go down there and say I want this done, here's the project and
here's what we'll pay."
He spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of U.S. reprisals
under the Helms-Burton Act and other pressures that prevent U.S.
companies and affiliates from doing business with Cuba.
While baby steps are a necessary part of the learning process,
industry insiders are confident that Cuba has what it takes to
develop a critical mass and knowledge base that will position the
island as an attractive option for IT outsourcing contracts --
particularly for software development in the medical, financial,
biotech and education fields.
Cuba is also poised to become a gateway to the lucrative Latin
American market by providing software adaptation and localization
services, offering the added benefit of regional economic
associations within the Caribbean and Latin American economies.
"Latin America is starting to roll and they won't be far behind in
technology down the road," the Canadian insider says. "Cuba offers a
front row seat to one of the world's fastest emerging markets, just a
three hour flight from Canada."
As the fifth-largest buyer of Canadian goods in Latin America, Cuba's
IT revolution is two-way. The country is also moving at a rapid pace
to develop its own infrastructure, concentrating on networking all of
its science and technology institutions the way the University of
Havana has been.
The project eventually will link more than 6,000 primary and middle
school libraries, 300 university libraries and more than 200
scientific institutions. Those numbers represent a significant
opportunity for Canadian companies, based on Cuba's inability to buy
U.S. goods and services.
"It's a huge undertaking that will require hardware, software and
everything in between," says Eduardo Orozco, director-general of the
Institute for Scientific and Technological Information. "Canadian
companies with good products at attractive price points have an
While sources admit that Cuba still needs experience at competing in
a global business environment, they are encouraged by the direction
that the country is taking.
"If they can bring their people up to speed in terms of international
standards and regulations, they will be a serious contender in
software outsourcing in the years to come," says one Canadian IT
consultant who did not want to be named because of the Helms-Burton
issue. "What I see is really encouraging, and we would be remiss not
to take a look at what they are doing there."
Latest Comments in the Conversation
NOTE FROM WALTER: Readers can go to Toronto Globe and Mail's website
and add your own moderated comments to them as this reader did:
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1. jiri z from Canada writes:
Three cheers for Cuba. A communist country? Only old horses with
blinkers on believe that.
Been there many times. Love the country, love the people, love the
music. Oh, and the beaches are also nice.
In terms of providing for its people (not for the rich Hollywood
folk) Cuba is number one among the Caribbean countries.
Cuba Moving Towards a Service Economy
FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ CRUZ
The transformation of Cuba towards a service economy with an
increasing focus on value-added industry and a restructuring of
external finances were highlighted today at the inaugural session of
the 6th National Congress of Economists and Accountants of Cuba
The Cuban Minister of Economy and Planning, Jose Luis Rodriguez,
emphasized the importance of a structural change in the tourism,
healthcare services, high-tech and software industries, which are
increasingly playing a larger role in the Cuban economy.
The minister also said that international monetary institutions are
showing greater interest in authorizing credits to Cuba, thanks to
responsible government economic policy in terms of foreign
commitments and to a strict observation of its financial obligations.
Between 1995 and 2004, Cuba's GDP has showed an average growth of
four percent, despite a drop between 2001 and 2003, due to diverse
factors such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a tightening of the US
blockade by the Bush administration and adverse natural phenomenon
such as drought and hurricanes.
This negative swing reversed as of last year when Cuba's GDP grew
five percent, a trend which continues this year which, according to
indications, will end with a nine percent growth in GDP. This
economic recovery has been, in large part, due to a return to a
socialist central planning system and a recent surge in solidarity
and cooperation efforts with such nations as Venezuela and China.
Among the most important economic results this year, is the
revaluation of the Cuban peso and convertible peso in relation to the
US dollar, which Cuba withdrew from circulation; growth in the food
industry; the renewal of a comprehensive housing project; the
restructuring of the transportation system; and a new project aimed
at more efficient ways to generate electricity.
During the opening ceremony, the president of ANEC, Roberto Verrier
Castro, read a letter addressed to Cuban President Fidel Castro
reiterating the support of Cuban economists, accountants and auditors
of the Revolution and the new changes to the economy and social
Some 250 delegates and 200 guests, representing the more than 67,000
professionals in the economic sciences sector nationwide, are
participating in the congress that will end this Saturday.
Cuba Accounting to Conform With International Standards
FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ CRUZ
Beginning January 1, 2006, new financial standards will go into
effect in Cuba that conform with international practices, according
to announcements made at the sixth congress of the National
Association of Economists and Accountants of Cuba (ANEC).
At the congress taking place at the Havana Convention Center, Dr.
Jose Carlos del Toro, secretary of the Committee of Cuban Accounting
Standards, reported that the new legal requirement of the Ministry of
Finances and Pricing will apply to all economic establishments on the
island; these include public and private entities, international
economic associations, as well as the cooperative and independent
The Cuban Standards for Financial Information (NCIF) have, as points
of reference, two international systems and UNCTAD accounting
guidelines. These require entities on the island to be registered and
possess certain economic documentation -in Spanish- and to present
their financial status in Cuban pesos.
The NCIF includes Cuban standards of accounting, interpretation and
other instruments of the accounting office. Its eight sessions will
cover conceptual frameworks, general standards and those specific to
Cuba, budgeting activity, government cost accounting, as well as the
respective nomenclature and classification of accounts and a glossary
ANEC, a professional organization that includes more than 67,000
professional members across the entire country, will assume as part
of its immediate tasks the preparation of accountants in the
administration of the NCIF, consultation for legislative processes
related to the new system and the design of a system of continuous
upgrading that will allow it to begin the certification of the Cuban
accountants according to the international standards by 2007.
This Friday, 251 delegates and more than 200 companies to the ANEC
congress will analyze topics such as planning in Cuba, the
installation of systems of internal control, the production of foods
on the island, the program for the redevelopment of transportation,
tourism, healthcare services, the state budget and central and