Cuba’s Changing Economy: Challenges and Opportunities

In 2006 Fidel Castro retired as Cuba’s president and was replaced by his brother, Raúl. Although the shift in leadership from one Castro to another has hardly offered a serious challenge to the established power structure, Raúl Castro has introduced a sweeping set of economic and social reforms, which are fundamentally altering the country. The newly emerging economy can best be described as a public-private hybrid, in which multiple forms of production, property ownership, and investment, in addition to a much slimmer welfare state and greater personal freedoms, will coexist with military run state-companies in key economic sectors, plus continued one party rule.

The panelists look at the new reforms, which are having a huge impact on the lives of ordinary Cubans. 


  • ​Uwe Optenhoegel was director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation’s Cuba Office from 2010 to June 2013. During this time he worked closely with Cuba’s key economists involved in the current reforms as well as other government and civil society actors. He is now the foundation’s director of the EU office in Brussels.
  • Katrin Hansing (Moderator) teaches at the Free University Berlin and is Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at City University New York (CUNY). Previously, she was Associate Director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University in Miami. She currently serves as a consultant to the Open Society Latin America Program.
Date: November 4, 2013
Time: 11:30 a.m.1:15 p.m.