Without doubt, Cuba is facing its most serious economic challenge in nearly thirty-five years of revolutionary rule. There is consensus that as the official, centrally planned economy has faltered, ordinary citizens eke out a living only by engaging in under-the-table, unrecorded, and mostly illegal activities. In fact, this "second economy" is growing by leaps and bounds. This volume sketches the contours of the very complex phenomenon of the second economy of socialist Cuba, and discusses its evolution over time, as well as the role that it may play in the transition to a market economy on the island.
The economic crisis of the 1990s has propelled the second economy from behind the scenes to center stage. Not only have black markets mushroomed, but second economy activities connected to the free-market that the Castro government has traditionally discouraged or even prosecuted are now being incorporated into the government's own economic strategy. Self-employment, cultivation of individual plots, and the use of foreign currencies to buy or sell goods, are now promoted with considerable enthusiasm by the leadership.
Perez-Lopez examines different ways of thinking about unregulated economic activities that have been set forth in the literature and concludes that the concept of the second economy is the most appropriate for Cuba. He brings together available information from a multitude of sources on the manifestations of the second economy in Cuba and of its operation. Cuba's Second Economy is a timely study of an economic system in crisis. It will be of interest to economists, political scientists, policymakers, and Latin America area scholars.