Social and Solidary Economy in Cuba
Cuban socialism is not defeated. It is inventing a new model of mixed economy, Rafael Betancourt argues.
He will explain the evolving concept of the Social and Solidary Economy (SSE) during a talk at San Francisco State University at 2 p.m. April 2 in LIB 244.
“Cuban SSE is, potentially the union of . . . three spheres – public, enterprise and private – comprised of a variety of economics actors -State, associative and autonomous – that adopt the principles of responsibility toward society and the environment,” he has written. This is a stark contrast with predictions that “Cuban society is in reality evolving toward the deconstruction of its social and solidary economy, and that the economic players are less and less responsible toward the society and the environment.”
As a dual citizen of Cuba and the United States with academic and activist credentials in both places, Betancourt is uniquely positioned to understand and explain the nuances of Cuba’s economic metamorphosis to a foreign audience.
In Cuba, he is professor of Urban Economics at the Colegio Universtario San Geronimo de La Habana of the University of Havana and English Editor of Revista Temas, the Cuban social science and humanities journal.
In the Bay Area, he is an associate at the Berkeley-based consulting firm Sol2 Economics, whose mission is to strengthen cooperation between socially responsible enterprises throughout the Americas. His role in Washington, D.C., is as a consultant at the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), a non-profit organization devoted to increasing the positive global impact of responsible tourism.
The author of two books and numerous articles, Betancourt speaks frequently on Cuban economics, sustainable tourism and Social and Solidarity Economics both in Cuba and abroad. His recent research and publications on sustainable tourism are a natural extension of his academic and social interest in the Social and Solidarity Economy, particularly as it applies to Cuba.
Born in Cuba and educated at the University of Florida, he currently lives in Cuba and spends his time between the two countries and is keenly aware of the differences in socialist and capitalist logic that imperil Cuba’s transformation.
“It is inconceivable that a capitalist economy, no matter how progressive, can be in essence, social and solidary,” he has written. “At least the majority of corporations will respond primarily to the logic of reproduction of capital. Only an economy truly socialist, 'with' and not 'of' the market, can aspire . . .to the formation of new social relations that construct an alternative economy based on the supremacy of labor in the reproduction of life.”
For that reason, he advocates a conscious decision to adapt a new economic model. As he explains the idea, “It is a question of crafting an ‘entrepreneurial citizenship’ capable of contributing to the ‘Prosperous and Sustainable Socialism’ that we are committed to building.”