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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

Former Russian official comments on post-Castro Cuba transition

Posted August 07, 2005 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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BY FRANCES ROBLES | Miami Herald

Egor Gaydar has some advice for the hundreds of social scientists, lawyers and economists considering Cuba’s post-Castro future.
Watch out.

‘‘It’s not an easy job. It will be a big mess,’’ Gaydar said. “You can make a lesser mess or a bigger mess.’‘

Gaydar should know. He is the former prime minister of Russia who was instrumental in reforming the post-Soviet government under Boris Yeltsin. A former finance minister, he drafted the economic reforms that he said led to an inevitable ‘‘transition recession’’ and backlash from a population that quickly forgot the communist regime’s abuses.

He offered his guidance at the 15th annual Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE) conference. Two hundred of the nation’s top Cuba experts gathered at Miami Dade College last week to debate the strategies of a Cuba without Fidel Castro.

Gaydar, who spent parts of his childhood in Cuba, warned against dissolving the army and police forces and said not to underestimate drops in the gross domestic product. A transition to a market economy, he said, could take up to five years.

ASCE was founded 15 years ago just after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Cuba had just lost massive subsidies and was on the brink of coming apart.

‘‘This conference was founded in 1990, when it seemed Cuba was about to undergo dramatic change,’’ said conference speaker Dan Erikson, a Cuba expert at the InterAmerican Dialogue. “Fifteen years later, everybody is still discussing the same issues, and the Cuban government has kept the economy afloat.’‘

Despite the Cuban government’s survival, economists painted a picture of a troubled economy that wobbles along due only to Venezuela’s generous oil deals.

With drops in oil production, massive power outages and lack of foreign investment, Cuba’s economy could be the final cause of Castro’s demise, experts said.

‘‘It’s in deep trouble,’’ said the association president, Ernesto Hernández-Catá, a Johns Hopkins University economist. “There is no future for this economy.’‘

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