This volume of Cuba in Transition brings together papers and selected commentaries presented at the Thirteenth Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy, which took place August 7-9, 2003, in Coral Gables, Florida. As with previous volumes, this collection of papers and commentaries covers a wide range of topics related to Cuba’s economy and society: the current economic situation, macroeconomics, foreign investment, the external sector, tourism, agriculture, transition issues, governance and the role of civil society, legal issues, and demography.
The theme for the Thirteenth Annual Meeting was “Cuba’s External Sector: Developments and Challenges.” We heard presentations from invited speakers on Cuba’s external debt and on status and prospects of hemispheric economic integration as well as many papers and commentaries on a variety of issues relevant to the interests of the Association’s membership. We also held a special half-day session on August 7, entitled “Propuestas para la democracia desde Cuba,” which brought together prominent speakers to discuss several proposals to create a democratic society in Cuba that have emerged from the island. We will issue the presentations made at this session as the third volume of the ASCE Occasional Studies.
In March of this year, the Cuban Government struck at the heart of an emerging civil society composed of independent journalists, economists, and human rights activists, jailing 78 of them and condemning them to sentences as long as 28 years. Among those arrested and sentenced were three distinguished members of ASCE, Marta Beatriz Roque Cabello, sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique, 18 years, and Oscar Espinosa Chepe, 20 years. They were arrested without justifiable cause, not allowed to defend themselves, and their property was confiscated. ASCE dedicated the Thirteenth Annual Meeting to them and to the other men and women unjustly imprisoned by the Cuban regime because of their dedication to freedom and human rights.
On behalf of the Board of Directors of ASCE, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jorge Pérez-López for preparing and editing this volume of Cuba in Transition. I also would like to thank the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies of the University of Miami for its cooperation at the annual meeting and its contribution in support of this volume’s publication.
Beatriz C. Casals