Posted on Friday, 10.07.11
Report: Cuban diaspora can boost island's economy
Cuba experts say Havana and Washington should open the doors to exile
involvement in private enterprises.
By Juan O. Tamayo
Cubans living abroad could significantly boost the island's private
economic sector if government officials in both Havana and Washington
adopt better policies toward the migrants, according to a report by a
team of top Cuban experts made public Friday.
Economic reforms undertaken by the Raúl Castro government "would have a
higher chance of succeeding if they are accompanied by a deep and
parallel revision of the migration policy," noted the study, titled "The
Cuban Diaspora in the 21st Century."
Washington also could help, by allowing Cubans in the United States to
become more directly and closely involved in the island's private
economic sector, an option now blocked by the U.S. trade embargo,
according to the report.
The study was the work of some of the best-known Cuba academics:
economist Carmelo Mesa-Lago of the University of Pittsburgh; Jorge
Dominguez of Harvard; Uva de Aragón and Juan Antonio Blanco of Florida
International University; and Jorge Duany of the University of Puerto Rico.
Also part of the team was Orlando Marquez, spokesman for Cuban Cardinal
Jaime Ortega and director of Palabra Nueva, a Havana archdiocese
magazine that has been publishing several reports on the country's need
for economic and other reforms.
The report was unveiled Friday in Washington at the Inter-American
Dialogue think tank, and will be presented in Miami on Monday at the
Shrine of Our Lady of Charity in a ceremony hosted by FIU's Cuba
Research Center (CRI).
De Aragon and Blanco said Monday's presentation would include the
results of a new poll by the CRI and FIU's Institute for Public Opinion
Research on the attitudes of Cuban-Americans toward the economic changes
taking place on the island.
Castro has been pushing to expand small private businesses, such as
appliance repair and barber shops, while making deep cuts in state
subsidies and public payrolls, giving more autonomy to government-owned
enterprises and attracting more foreign investments.
Earlier this year, he also announced the government was studying an
overhaul of its migration policies, which most often punish Cubans who
leave by seizing their properties and makes it difficult for some of
them to return for visits or to stay.
Cubans living abroad already are helping relatives and friends on the
island to finance and equip small businesses such as the home-based
restaurants known as paladares. But U.S. embargo regulations make it
illegal for U.S. residents to invest in private businesses on the island.