Is Cuba's Financial Situation Improving With Socialism?

Andrew Deen  |

For decades, Cuba has struggled under the rule of various political powers. From Fidel Castro to the collapse of Communism, the country has seen tough times.

Now, however, the nation’s legislators have drafted a new constitution. While the document still names the Communist Party as its primary political influence, it promotes a socialist rather than communist agenda.

This change is a reflection of the transformation currently taking place in the land also known as the "Pearl of the Antilles." The new Constitution will reflect the political and economic changes needed to shift toward a sustainable socialist system.

Cuba's new constitution will recognize private property -- a privilege long spurned by the ruling Communist Party as a capitalist doctrine. Additionally, the new declaration will increase the legal recognition of the many micro businesses that have flourished in the nation, which previously only acknowledged cooperatives, farms, personal and joint venture real estate. Furthermore, the new laws will bolster Cuba's political structure and promote collaboration among political leaders.

Is Cuba’s Stance on Socialism Sustainable?

These changes are a welcome departure from the totalitarian rule of former Prime Minister Fidel Castro. Currently, Miguel Diaz-Canel – a former protégé of Castro – will head the Communist Party until 2021. In accordance with the new Constitution slated for ratification on February 2019, President Diaz-Canel will no longer serve as head a Council of State and Council of Ministers. Instead, a new Prime Minister position will emerge and Diaz-Canel will serve as president of the National Assembly of the People's Power, the legislative Parliament of Cuba, and he will continue to hold the highest executive post in the nation.

The changing times in Cuba are now evident in its new constitution, which in addition to recognizing private property also recognizes same-sex marriage – another sign of Cuba's changing society. The new draft also states that incoming presidential leaders must be younger than 60 years of age when taking office, and that the nation’s elected top executive can only serve two five-year terms.

What America Can Learn From Cuba

Fidel Castro's death on November 25 of 2016 was felt all over the world. For Americans, Cuba was an exotic land that granted limited access to outsiders. However, the United States can learn much from Cuba's longstanding universal healthcare model, which emerged in the 1960’s.

The nation’s healthcare framework is centered around access to primary care. In Cuba, physicians come to know their patients well. If a patient is ill, they see their primary care provider (PCP) and not a physician assistant, and typically on the same day. Furthermore, most Cuban doctors practice family medicine, rather than a specialty, and enter the medical profession with the goal of helping people in their own communities while giving little thought to remuneration.

This is not the case for many American patients. In fact, the United States is the only developed nation that does not provide its citizens with universal access to nationalized healthcare. Unlike Cuba, America is facing growing mental health issues, with 26% of the U.S. adult population being affected by depression. This will be the 2nd leading cause of disability by 2020. Resultantly, the physician shortage in America and growing mental health needs, continues to worsen America’s situation. Healthcare advocates hope issues will be improved and alleviated by granting increased autonomy for advanced practice nurse practitioners.

Is Cuba’s Socialist Health Approach Beneficial?

Interestingly, Cuba's current healthcare structure sprung forth from socialist ideology. Today, the nation's healthcare system focuses heavily on preventative care and citizens have access to everything from wellness visits to complex surgeries at no cost. Even dental care, prescriptions and physician home visits are covered by the nation's healthcare system.

The physical and emotional well being of Cuban citizens is a testament to the effectiveness of the nation’s healthcare network. For example, the infant mortality rate of Cuban newborns and life expectancy for adults rivals that of the best patient outcomes in the world. Additionally, there's one doctor for every 150 patients -- a far cry from the nearly 3 doctors that serve every thousand patients in the United Kingdom, which ranks high in positive outcomes as well.

Learn From Cuba, and Consider How America Can Excel

Everyone can learn from Cuba's past as well as gain a better understanding of the importance of democracy and a justice system that is regulated by checks and balances. Now, many people take trips to Cuba to explore and learn about the nation's culture. It's even a popular place for students who want to study abroad.

Study abroad programs provides students with the opportunity to go to Cuba to study at The Universidad de La Habana (University of Havana) during the summer semester and January term or the Universidad Central Marta Abreu in Santa Clara during the fall and spring semesters. International students can take courses to learn the Spanish language as well as Cuban and Caribbean studies, which examine Cuban history, culture, films and other aspects of life in Cuba.

It's easy to imagine that the citizens of Cuba are experiencing a whirlwind of intense emotion that comes with the change of rule that they've experienced for the last six decades. Among the citizens, there’s hope that this new generation of leaders will help solve some of the nation's biggest problems, including bolstering salaries that are far below a living wage in the nation. Cuba nationals are also hoping that the nation’s relations with the United States will improve in the near future.

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