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Another Cuban Statistical Mystery

Official Cuban statistics are full of mysteries, and this is particularly the case in the area of the balance of payments. Even though data on trade in goods and services is available through 2011, data on other current account transactions (grants, remittances and interest payments abroad) have not been published since 2009. Data on capital account and official reserve transaction have not been seen for many years.

But even within the historical record there is a particularly disturbing oddity. Until 2004 the item entitled net current transfers (“transferencias corrientes netas”) was very close to most independent estimates of private remittances received by Cuban residents from relatives and friends abroad. For example, in 2004 the official balance of payments number for net current transfers was $974 million while Morales (2013) estimated private remittances at $1031 billion in that year. Most of the difference could be explained by net grants received by Cuba from abroad.

Sources: Morales (2013), Morales (2010), ONE (various issues), and authors’ calculations.

Sources: Morales (2013), Morales (2010), ONE (various issues), and authors’ calculations.

Beginning in 2005, however, the official numbers for net current transfers started to deviate dramatically from Morale’s estimates of remittances. As shown in the chart, the residual (I.e., that part of the difference that could not be explained by net official grants) became negative and ranged from $910 million to $1812 million a year. This implies that, if the official numbers for current transfers are to be trusted, Cuba has been transferring abroad sums of that magnitude for the 5-year period. Where did all that money go?

ONE discontinued publication of data for current transactions in 2010.



  1. Morales Dopico, Emilio (2010). “Envíos de Remesas a Cuba: Desarrollo, Evolución e Impacto”. Cuba in Transition, Volume 20. Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy. Miami, FL.

  2. Morales, Emilio (2013). “Cuba: $2.6 billion in Remittances in 2012”.

  3. Oficina Nacional de Estadística e Información (various issues). Anuario Estadístico de Cuba. La Habana.

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