On the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Cuban Economy, and Remittance Flows to the Island

April 6, 2021 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

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Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Cuba was suffering an economic crisis. With the pandemic, the crisis has aggravated as the remittances and tourism, the second and third most important sources of hard currency on the island, have decreased. Food scarcity affects Cubans’ daily lives, who have to make long lines to access essential goods. On top of that, new United States government restrictions on remittances went into effect in November 2020. The closure of Western Union damages Cuban families’ survival strategies in times of Covid, hurts the emerging private sector, and limits the Cuban diaspora’s economic capacity to support their loved ones on the island. Amid the complex challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic imposes on Cuba and the remittance restrictions, the Cuban government has implemented a set of economic measures. Among them, Cuba expands the list of activities in which local private entrepreneurs are engaged from 127 to more than 2,000. Other steps have been eliminating the 10% tax on the US dollar, the opening of stores where to buy with this currency, and the long-awaited monetary reform. Evaluating the intersected impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the remittance restrictions, this presentation examines the Cuban government’s economic response.

About the presenter: Denisse Delgado Vazquez is a PhD student in the McCormack Graduate School Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and an expert on US-Cuban relations.