Cuban economy

Cuba Names Tourism Minister To Be First PM Since 1976

Dec 23, 2019
MIAMI HERALD

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Saturday named Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz as the country's first prime minister since 1976 — a nomination quickly confirmed by the country's parliament.

Marrero, 56, has been tourism minister for 16 years, presiding over a rise in visitors and a hotel construction boom that has made tourism one of the most important sectors of the Cuban economy.

Diaz-Canel cited Marrero's experience in negotiating with foreign investors as one of his prime qualifications, according to state media.

YAMIL LAGE / AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The Cuban government announced economic measures this week to seek dollars in a bid to stay afloat in the midst of an acute financial crisis triggered by its dependence on Venezuelan oil and new U.S. sanctions.

On Tuesday, Cuban Vice President Salvador Mesa and several ministers announced on television that the government was going to lower the prices of household appliances and other items on the condition that Cubans pay in dollars.

The move is an attempt to obtain a larger percentage of remittances sent from abroad.

Ismael Francisco / AP

Cuba's economy continues to sink. In the past year the island has seen increasing food shortages, utility outages and fuel scarcity. On Thursday Cuba's communist government took a drastic step. But it's one that economists say could backfire.

Industria Molinera de la Habana

Cuba’s economy barely grew at all this year. Officials this week say the communist island will probably show the same dismal performance next year. And the one thing that is growing in Cuba are shortages.

AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

This is turning out to be quite the embarrassing summer for communist Cuba.

This week the State Department revealed that two Cuban diplomats working in Washington had been booted out of the U.S. in response to “incidents” last year that made U.S. diplomats working in Havana physically ill. The Associated Press reported investigators believe sonic devices were planted in the U.S. diplomats’ residences that left the Americans with hearing loss.

Luis Choy / Special to the Miami Herald

Next month marks the second anniversary of normalized relations between the U.S. and Cuba – and things couldn’t look more uncertain. President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to cancel normalization unless Cuba delivers more democratic reform. But even before Trump’s election, Cuba seemed to be closing rather than opening the door to U.S. business.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

There was a lot of celebration – and not a little hype – last week when JetBlue took the first U.S. commercial flight into Cuba in more than 50 years.

It was another big step in the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations. But beneath all the airborne cheering is the grim reality that Cuba’s economic wings have been all but clipped.