Friday, July 07, 2017

Announcing Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy Annual Conference

The 27th Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy will take place in Miami, Florida 27-29 July 2017. The three-day conference, around the theme Cuba: Navigating a Turbulent World, will focus on evaluating the state of the Cuban economy taking into consideration the impending changes in Cuba’s relations with the United States. Those of you in Miami at the end of July might consider participating.

The press release announcing the Conference follows along with the draft Program.

Cuba: Navigating in a Turbulent World

Contact: Blanca Silva

"Cuba: Navigating in a Turbulent World" Taking Place at Downtown Miami Hilton July 27-29

Miami – July 7, 2017 – The Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE) will hold its 27th Annual Conference at the downtown Miami Hilton (1601 Biscayne Boulevard) July 27-29. Titled "Cuba: Navigating in a Turbulent World," the three-day event will focus on evaluating the state of the Cuban economy, taking into consideration the impending changes in Cuba's relations with the United States. The conference program will feature scholarly individual presentations and roundtable discussions by world-class experts, including specialists from the island.

"With Venezuela's collapsing economy, one of the key issues to be discussed at this year's conference is the future of Cuba without Venezuelan trade and subsidies," says Helena Solo-Gabriele, Ph.D., ASCE president and an engineering professor at University of Miami. "Another key issue is whether Cuba will implement the economic reforms needed to stimulate the private sector and attract foreign investment to spur economic growth."

​Cuba's dual currency system, current economic policies, and prospects for future growth and change will be covered at the conference, together with social and legal issues related to the economy. This year, there will be two sessions dedicated to legal issues in Cuba titled "Foreign Investment in Cuba: Law, Policies, and Practicalities" and "Coordinating U.S. and Legal Principles to Resolve Property and Damage Claims." Continuing law education credits are available for both sessions. Additional topics include tourism, real estate, and agriculture.

An impressive roster of presenters who have been chosen based on the quality of their paper submissions include keynote speaker Marc Frank, a journalist working in Havana for Reuters and "Financial Times," and author of "Cuban Revelations: Behind the Scenes in Havana." Others include faculty from many esteemed universities in the United States and experts from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, U.S. Department of Labor, and U.S. Department of State.

Special guest presenters who will be able to travel from Cuba include leading economist Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva who will speak about economic anticipations on the island; intellectuals Dagoberto Valdés Hernández and Yoandy Izquierdo Toledo, both from Centro de Convivencia, who will speak about Cuba's education system and its impact on the economy; Dr. Alina Lopez Hernández, a philosophy professor and essayist, who will speak about the realities of the Cuban economy; top journalist Ernesto Perez Chang of Cubanet News who will speak about journalistic interpretations of Cuba's economy; Dr. Olimpia Gómez Consuegra, an agricultural engineer and a member of the Cuban Academy of Science until 2011 who will participate on a panel about agriculture; Laritza Diversent, a lawyer, independent journalist and human rights defender who will discuss the struggle to establish independent civil society organizations; and Joanna Columbié, an activist with Academia del Movimiento Politico Somos + who will also touch on the struggles of independent civil society. Sessions by these guest presenters will be conducted in Spanish.

"We aim to gauge the state of the Cuban economy with scholarly discussions and research where the participation of intellectuals in Cuba is very relevant," said Solo-Gabriele. "With this valuable exchange, we are creating a rich body of knowledge that supports ASCE's mission of promoting scholarly discussion on the Cuban economy."

In addition to scholars and professionals, the conference will feature a graduate and undergraduate student panel with papers addressing Cuba's housing sustainability, the influence of foreign policies, and even the influence of foreign fashion on the Cuban identity. Student papers were judged by a panel of experts and the winning students will receive a modest scholarship award plus travel funds to participate in the conference. These students are represented internationally from the U.S., the Netherlands, and Belgium.

"We are very appreciative of the financial support received from the Christopher Reynolds Foundation for the student paper competition and the Cuban scholar travel plans," says Solo-Gabriele.

"Cuba: Navigating in a Turbulent World" will open on Thursday, July 27th with two plenary sessions after an 8 a.m. breakfast; concurrent sessions will follow lunch and will dominate the Friday and Saturday programs. While a cocktail reception will take place on Thursday after the conference, an ASCE business meeting will be held on Friday at 6:45 p.m. The event closes on Saturday at 12:45 p.m. with two concurrent sessions. For more information on this conference, go to To register, go to

The Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE) is a non-profit, non-political organization incorporated in the state of Maryland in 1990. With members from the US, Latin America and Europe, its mission is to promote research, publications, and scholarly discussion on the Cuban economy in its broadest sense, including on the social, economic, legal and environmental aspects of a transition to a free market economy and a democratic society in Cuba. ASCE is committed to a civil discussion of all points of view. Affiliated with the American Economic Association and the Allied Social Sciences Association of the United States, ASCE maintains professional contacts with economists inside Cuba –whether independent or associated with the Cuban government-- who are interested in engaging in scholarly discussion and research.


Cuba: Navigating a Turbulent World
Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE)
Twenty-Seventh Annual Meeting
July 27-29, 2017

The Hilton Miami Downtown Hotel
1601 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, Florida 33132
Thursday, July 27
8:00 a.m.                                REGISTRATION and CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST
9:00 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.           PLENARY SESSION

1. Cuban Economic Developments
Chair: Helena Solo-Gabriele, University of Miami and ASCE President
Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Professor Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh, ""Fidel Castro's Legacy on Cuba's Social Policy and the Current Situation"
Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva, Revista Temas, "La economía cubana: Por dónde anda y que se debería esperar"
Jorge Pérez-López, U.S. Department of Labor (retired), "Cuba's Never Ending External Sector Crisis"

10:45 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.         COFFEE BREAK

11:00 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.         PLENARY SESSION

2. The Exchange System and the Balance of Payments
Chair:  Armando Linde , IMF (retired)
Luis R. Luis, "Cuba’s Capital Account of the Balance of Payments"
Ernesto Hernández-Cata, The Foundry, Inc. and IMF (retired), "Rationalizing Cuba's Exchange System: The Perils of Gradualism"
Gabriel DiBella, IMF, and Rafael Romeu, DevTech Systems, "Primer on Currency Unification and Exchange Rate Policy in Cuba: Lessons from Exchange Rate Unification in Transition"
Discussants: Joaquín Pujol, IMF (retired); Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva, Revista Temas

1:00 p.m. -2:15 p.m.              LUNCH BREAK--UNSCHEDULED

2:30 p.m.- 4:15 p.m.              CONCURRENT SESSIONS

3. Agriculture
Chair: Antonio Gayoso, U.S. Department of State (retired) (invited)
William Messina, University of Florida, "Who are Cuba's Independent Farmers?"
José F. Alonso, Montgomery College, "Marabú, Charcoal, Exports and Dollars"
Olimpia Gómez, Tomás Depestre y Mayte Piñón, "Producciones de tomate y pimiento en el trópico: realidades y dificultades"
Mario González-Corzo, City University of New York (CUNY), "Prospects for Cuba's Usufruct Farmers"
Discussant: Gary Maybarduk, U.S. Department of State (retired); Juan Tomás Sánchez, Sugarcane Growers Association of Cuba, Inc

4. Cuba: de la crisis a las propuestas para el futuro (organizado por el Centro de Estudios Convivencia, CEC)
Presidente de la sesión: Carmelo Mesa-Lago: Prof. Emérito de la Universidad de Pittsburgh y miembro del Consejo Académico del CEC
Dagoberto Valdés Hernández, Director del CEC, Cuba, "Cultura y Educación en el futuro de Cuba: visión y propuestas"
Carmelo Mesa-Lago, University of Pittsburgh y Consejo Académico del CEC, "Economía y educación en Cuba hoy"
Yoandy Izquierdo Toledo, Máster en Bioética, miembro del Consejo Directivo del CEC, "La educación ética y cívica: una solución a la crisis económica y de valores en Cuba"
Comentarista: Silvia Pedraza, University of Michigan y Consejo Académico del CEC

4:15 p.m.-4:30 p.m.               COFFEE BREAK

4:30 p.m.- 6:15 p.m.              CONCURRENT SESSIONS

5. Cuban Economic Policies & Growth Strategies
Chair: Carlos Quijano, World Bank (retired)
Vadim Grishin, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Georgetown University, "Economic Reforms in Cuba: Myths and Realities"
Larry Catá Backer, Penn State University, "A Critical Look at Cuba’s National Economic and Social Development Plan 2030—With a Focus on the Tourism and Pharma Sectors"
Gary Maybarduk, U.S. Department of State (retired), "Encouraging Reform in Cuba: Can We Get It Right?"
Juan Tomás Sánchez, Sugarcane Growers Association of Cuba, Inc., "The Soft-Swift Transition of Cuba to a Hard Structure with Proven Results"
Discussants: Luis Locay, University of Miami; Sergio Díaz-Briquets, Independent Consultant

6. Perspectivas para Cuba: ¿Transición o Sucesión?
Presidencia: Julio Shiling, Patria de Martí
Reinaldo Cosano Alén, Agencia Sindical Press, "El cuentapropismo: Limitantes sistémicos y perspectivas de desarrollo”
Julio Cesar Fariña Pérez,  Proyecto Emprende con Ciencia, "Realidades y perspectivas del trabajo por cuenta propia en el sector transporte"
Juan Carlos González Leiva, Consejo de Relatores de DDHH de Cuba,“El reordenamiento jurídico cubano: requisito para una transición”
Alina Bárbara López Hernández, UNEAC, "¿Nominalistas o realistas? Los modernos teólogos de la economía cubana"
Comentaristas: Frank Rodríguez, FaceCuba; Julio Shiling, Patria de Martí

6:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m.               COCKTAIL RECEPTION

Friday, July 28
8:00 a.m.-8:30 a.m.               REGISTRATION and CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST
8:30 a.m.-10:15 a.m.             CONCURRENT SESSIONS
7. Foreign Investment in Cuba: Law, Policy, and Practicalities
Presenter: Larry Catá Backer, W. Richard and Mary Eshelman Faculty Scholar; Professor of Law and International Affairs, Penn State Law
Cuba’s 2014 Foreign Investment Law and the dissemination of its annual Portfolio of Opportunities for Foreign Investment are signals that Cuba is open to foreign direct investment. While Cuba has secured a number of deals, progress on all sides remains slow due to the complexities and uncertainties surrounding legal, policy, liability, and other issues. This session will offer a detailed look at Cuban law relevant to foreign investment, bilateral and other agreements with Cuba, transaction formation pitfalls and best practices, and how to steer clear of liability and policy traps so that all parties can seal the deal.

8. Real Estate Sector
Chair: José Ramón de la Torre, FIU (invited)
Violaine Jolivet, University of Montreal, "(Re) Investing Havana: Mobility and Socio-Spatial Mutations in the Cuban Capital"
Sergio Díaz-Briquets, "Recognizing the Obvious While Muddling the Housing Waters"
Martina Kunović, University of Wisconsin-Madison, "Cuba’s Emerging Real-Estate Sector: A Closer Look at Havana’s Inmobiliarias"
Discussant:  Elias Amor (invited)

 10:15 a.m.-10:30 a.m.          COFFEE BREAK
10:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.           CONCURRENT SESSIONS
9. Coordinating U.S. and Cuban Legal Principles to Resolve Property and Damage Claims
Presenters: Pedro A. Freyre, Partner; Chair, International Practice, Akerman LLP; Rolando Anillo, Corporate Counsel, Florida Crystals Corp., and President, Cuban Claims Owners Association
Full restoration of ties between the U.S. and Cuba requires, among other things, the resolution of outstanding property and other claims lodged by each country against the other. This in-depth session will look at Cuba’s expropriation of U.S. and other properties, U.S. certified claims and default judgments against Cuba, and country-to-country debts. We will also explore Cuba’s asserted claims for damages caused by the U.S. embargo and our operations in Cuba. The presenters will then discuss relevant U.S. law (e.g., OFAC regulations, Helms-Burton) and applicable Cuban law (including required changes depending on alternate resolution scenarios). Finally, the speakers will look at potential legal remedies and solutions, as well as possible next steps under the new U.S. administration.

10. The Water Economy in Cuba
Chair: TBA
Enrique Pumar, Santa Clara University; Helena Solo-Gabriele, University of Miami; and Joseph Treaster, University of Miami, "Water in Cuba and American Relations: A Neo-Functional Approach"
Gabriel Ferrer, "Water Disinfection Systems for Cuban Churches"
Thomas M. Getting, John Geibel, Mainor Vega, Robert Wiley III, and Hernán Cortés A., Xylem, Inc., “Rehabilitating Water Filter Systems with Potential Cuba Applications”
Genesis Vargas and Elizabeth Worsham, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, "Powering the Pearl: A Study of Cuba's Energy Autonomy"

12:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.             ASCE LUNCHEON
ASCE Student Awards
Ernesto Betancourt Keynote Address:  Marc Frank, Reuters, Havana
 "The Strategic Retreat: What’s Driving and Slowing Change in Cuba and U.S.-Cuban Relations"

2:45 p.m.-4:30 p.m.               CONCURRENT SESSIONS
11. Cuba-U.S. Economic Relations  
Chair: Oscar Echevarria, GlobalExpand LLC
Roger R. Betancourt, University of Maryland, "Cuba Normalization Policy in a Trump Administration: The Obvious, The Sensible, and The Subtle"
Ernesto Hernández-Catá, "Economic Relations between Cuba and the United States: Looking Beyond the Early Irrational Exuberance"
Paolo Spadoni, Augusta University, "U.S.-Cuba Business Relations under the Obama Administration and Prospects under the Trump Administration"
Discussants: Luis R. Luis; Gary Maybarduk, U.S. Department of State (retired)

12A. Student Panel I
Chair: Enrique Pumar, Santa Clara University
Anthony Bencivengo, Sarah Lawrence College, "Sembrando la Sostenibilidad"
Pablo Boorsman-Mendoza, Utrecht University (Netherlands), "Peripheral  Ideas that Won't Fly: EU Foreign Policy Decisions on Cuba and US Influence"
Julie Rausenberger, University of Louvein (Belgium), "Importing Modernity: Foreign Fashion and Identity-Making in Urban Cuba"
Kate Gaffney, New York University, "The Destruction of Havana's Neighborhoods: When Heritage Tourism Becomes a Priority Over Habitable Housing"
Discussants: Mario González-Corzo, Lehman College, CUNY; María Dolores Espino, St. Thomas University;  Archibald Ritter, Carleton University; Mauricio Solaún, University of Illinois (emeritus)

4:30 p.m.-4:45 p.m.               COFFEE BREAK
4:45 p.m.-6:30 p.m.               CONCURRENT SESSIONS
12B. Student Panel II (virtual panel)**
Exploring Innovations and Advancements: Connecting Global Communities in Technology, Education, and Management in Cuba
Co-Chairs: Michael Strauss, Université de Paris 5; Frank Carlos Martinez, The Havana Consulting Group LLC; Lani Fraizer, Pepperdine University; Sonya Sharififard, Pepperdine University
Charles Bray, Jessie Lockhart, John Masters, Kim Levey, Pepperdine University, "What the U.S. could learn from Cuba and China: Looking into an 'alternative universe'"
Jennifer Fox and Rebecca Park, Pepperdine University, "Cuban labor market and human capital: Is there a misalignment?"
Vicky Panossian, Pepperdine University, "The Cuban Paradox: Revolution, Socialism and the Colorful Rhythm of the Cuban Soul"
Shimeka Bruton, Pepperdine University, "Exploring Reforms: Cuba's Minimum Wage Standard"
Sonya Sharififard and Lani Fraizer, Pepperdine University, "Exploring Cuban Vocational Education and Economic Stability"
**For those who wish to join virtually, please use the following link: []
Participants are encouraged to join the asynchronous conversation for this session at 6:30
pm EDT via Facebook Live: []

13. Economic Analysis of Tourism and FDI
Chair: Paolo Spadoni, Augusta University (invited)
Maria Dolores Espino and Srabana Gupta, St. Thomas University, "Cuban Success with Canadian Tourists: A Comparative Analysis"
Sebastián Acevedo Mejía and Trevor Alleyne, IMF, and Rafael Romeu, DevTech Systems, "Revisiting the Potential Impact to the Rest of the Caribbean from Opening US-Cuba Tourism
Jim Casey, Washington and Lee University, "Trip Attribute Importance and Willingness to Pay for Marine Conservation: An Exploratory Study of Potential U.S. Visitors to Cuba"
Janet L. Walsh, CEO and President, Birchtree Global, LLC." Success Characteristics of Foreign Direct Investment in Cuba"
Discussants: Paul Meo, World Bank (retired) (invited); Jorge Pérez-López, U.S. Department of Labor (retired)

14. Private Sector
Chair: Roger de la Torre, Independent Consultant
Ted A. Henken, Baruch College, City University of New York, "Between the 'Party Line' and the 'Bottom Line': El Proyecto Artecorte and the Virtuous Circle of Entrepreneurial Solidarity in One Old Havana Neighborhood"
Ståle Wig, University of Oslo, "A comparative framework for understanding the emerging Cuban private sector"
Vicente P. Escobal, ex-director del Instituto Cubano de Investigaciones Socio-Laborales y Económicas Independientes, "Las pequeñas y medianas empresas en Cuba. Antecedentes, actualidad y perspectivas"
Emilio Morales, The Havana Consulting Group, "Deshielo y reformas crean una clase media y un nuevo balance de poder sin precedentes en casi 60 años"
Discussants: Mario González-Corzo, City University of New York (CUNY); Beatriz Lima Lizama, Centro Cristiano de Reflexion y Dialogo-Cuba (CCRD-C)

6:45 p.m.-8:15 p.m.               ASCE BUSINESS MEETING

Saturday, July 29

8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m.               REGISTRATION AND CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST

9:00 a.m.-10:45 a.m              CONCURRENT SESSIONS

15. Special Topics

Chair: Roger Betancourt, University of Maryland
Nicolás Sánchez, Professor Emeritus, College of the Holy Cross, "What If… Fulgencio Batista Had Been Black?"
Martin Palous, Director of Vaclav Havel Program for Human Rights and Diplomacy, FIU, "Vaclav Havel's Legacy and Cuba's Future"
Rodolfo J. Stusser, M.D., "Cuban and US Healthcare Systems 1900-2016:  Similarities, Differences, and Efficiencies"
Joanna Columbié, Somos +, “La formación de liderazgo en la sociedad civil: Una necesidad imperativa para Cuba presente y futuro”
Discussant: Antonio Gayoso, U.S. Department of State (retired) (invited)

16. Social and Cultural Topics
Chair:  Silvia Pedraza, University of Michigan  
Soren Triff, Bristol Community College, "Entre el gueto judío y el encierro cubano: la vida diaria y el artículo de costumbres digital bajo la economía de la miseria"
Yvon Grenier, St. Francis Xavier University, Canada, "The Revolution is Over, Isn¹t it? The Use and Abuse of the Term "Revolution" in Cuban Studies"
Idabell Rosales, “La cultura independiente en Cuba y la transición: trabas y oportunidades”
Ernesto Pérez Chang, periodista de Cubanet News, "Papel del periodismo independiente en el análisis de la economía cubana actual"
Discussant: Enrique Pumar, Santa Clara University (invited); Silvia Pedraza, University of Michigan

10:45 a.m.-11:00 a.m.           COFFEE BREAK
11:00 a.m. -12:45 p.m.          CONCURRENT SESSIONS
17. La nueva economía cubana: casos de estudio
Presidencia: Ted A. Henken, Baruch College, City University of New York
Beatriz Lima Lizama, Centro Cristiano de Reflexion y Dialogo-Cuba (CCRD-C), y René García Bello, asesor y colaborador de la estrategia de apoyo a las MiPyMEs del CCRD-C, "El turismo y el sector privado. Sinergias y potencialidades para el desarrollo local en Cárdenas"
Jessica Clemente, "Músicos y economía: el caso Matanzas"
Eneida Díaz Díaz y Teresa M. Cruz Martínez, emprendedoras beneficiadas por CCRD-C en Cárdenas, "El emprendimiento femenino en Cuba. Dos proyectos, dos historias de mujeres"
Buenaventura Rubén Rigol Cardona, Universidad de Holguín & Centro de Estudios de Políticas Alternativas para la Transición Democrática (CEPATD), “El sector transporte cubano, y el desarrollo económico comprometido”
Comentarista: Dagoberto Valdés, Centro de Estudios Convivencia (invited)

18. Cuba and U.S. Legal Topics
Chair: Gustavo Arnavat, Senior Advisor, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
Laritza Diversent, Agencia Cubalex, "Sociedad civil fortalecida, una necesidad imprescindible en el futuro democrático de Cuba"
Kevin Fandl, Fox School of Business, Temple University, "Adios embargo: The case for Executive termination of the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba"
Fred Viera, Esq. and Isabel Yague, Esq., "The State of the U.S. Constitutional Right to International Travel and its Potential Socio-Economic Impact on Cuba"
Julio Antonio Fernández, jurista e historiador, "Contexto y perspectivas constitucionales y legales como garantías del bienestar social"
Discussants: Michael Strauss, Université de Paris 5; Rolando Anillo, Corporate Counsel, Florida Crystals Corp., and President, Cuban Claims Owners Association (invited)

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