The biggest discrepancies in the first meeting to normalise relations between Cuba and the United States, after more than half a century, were over the issue of human rights. But what stood out in the talks was a keen interest in forging ahead, in a process led by two women.
The landscape is changing in Cuba’s cities and towns, with political slogans giving way to lighted signs advertising the best of local and international cuisine and air-conditioned lodgings – signs of an emerging private sector that was inconceivable until recently.
After three decades of supposedly planned socialism (1960-1990), when government plans were often only halfway fulfilled, lost in oblivion due to lack of oversight or of realism, or in the best of cases carried out any which way just to live up to the goals, Cubans got used to waiting (with or without hope) for the political leadership, financed with heavy Soviet subsidies, to come up with the next “plan”.
For the Cuban economy, the year 2014 is set to start with the opening of the first installations in the Special Economic Development Zone in the upgraded Mariel port, 70 km west of Havana.