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The Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL) is no longer in operation. This website documents FOCAL's activities and accomplishments throughout its existence. Thank you for your interest in the work of FOCAL.

Governance and Social Justice in Cuba: Past, Present and Future

Between 2005 and 2008, leading researchers gathered in four conferences to explore the root causes of Cuba's challenges, analyze these issues within the regional and global context, and develop a framework for long-term capacity building in Cuba.

FOCAL, the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, and the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) in Mexico worked together on this research initiative.

The project's objectives:

  • Explore Cuba's history under the republic and socialism for insights into the root causes of the island's political, social and economic governance challenges and how they may manifest in the future. This analysis included an explicit examination of the interconnections between social justice and governance, as part of Cuba's political governance challenges.

  • Analyze these issues within a comparative regional and global context in order to identify and draw upon appropriate lessons that could be applied to Cuba.

  • Develop a framework for long-term democratic, economic and social capacity building in Cuba that will seek to inform public choices on Cuba at present, and especially whenever transition takes place on the island.

  • Establish a multinational network of scholars and practitioners.


  • Mexico City, Mexico, April 21-22, 2005 (Agenda)

  • Ottawa, Canada, June 9, 2006 (Agenda)

  • Montréal, Canada, September 4, 2007 (Agenda, Biographies)

  • Bellagio, Italy, May 26-29, 2008 (Agenda)

Reports and Papers:

Oxfam International in Cuba
Susan Bird, Director of the Office for Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean, Oxfam America, El Salvador

Canada and the Privatization of Foreign Development Assistance
Carlo Dade, Executive Director, FOCAL

El programa redistributivo de la revolución cubana
Haroldo Dilla Alfonso, Coordinator, Ciudades y Fronteras

Social Reform in Socialist Economies
Raj M. Desai, The Brookings Institution and Georgetown University

Desigualdad y política social en Cuba hoy
Mayra Espina Prieto, Centre for Psychological and Sociological Research (CIPS)

Ford Foundation Grants During Transitions to Democracy
Cristina Eguizábal, Director, Latin American and Caribbean Center
Florida International University

Promoting Equity in Cuba During Transition: A few remarks based on theory and experience
Francisco H.G. Ferreira, Development Research Group, The World Bank

Social Justice in Cuba: International Cooperation Bi-Multilateral Spain and EU
Jesús Gracia Aldaz, former Executive Director of the Spanish Agency for International Development and Spanish ambassador to Cuba

NED Cuba Grants 1984-2008
Miriam Kornblith, Director, Latin America and the Caribbean, National Endowment for Democracy

Social Services in Cuba: Is the Current Economic System Capable of Financially Sustaining Them in the Long Run?
Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Pittsburgh

The New Länder in Unified Germany and Cuban Transition
Claus Offe, Professor, Hertie School of Governance

La Iglesia en Cuba y el futuro de la justicia social
Rita María Petrirena Hernández, Director of Social Services, Council of Catholic Bishops, Cuba

Desafios y posibilidades de la justicia social en Cuba a la luz de lecciones de sociedades en transición
Ana Sojo, División Desarrollo Social, Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL)

Social Policy in Post-Communist Europe: A Political Sociology Perspective
Pieter Vanhuysse, University of Haifa

La economía actual y sus perspectivas
Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva, Professor, Centro de Estudios de la Economía Cubana, University of Havana

Future Social Polices in Cuba: Seaching for an Optimal Balance
Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Economics and Latin American Studies, University of Pittsburgh

La Microeconomía y la Justicia Social
Carlos Saladrigas, Co-Chairman, Cuba Study Group

Rising Income Inequality During Transition:  Can Cuba Avoid the Worst?
Myrna Alexander, Independent Consultant

Cuba's Institutions and the Future Challenges of Governance and Social Justice
Jorge I. Domínguez,
Director, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, U.S.

Assessing the Cuban Economy’s Current and Future Capacity to Provide Social Justice: Social Services and Poverty-Reduction
Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics and Latin American Studies, University of Pittsburgh, U.S.

Vanishing Act?: The Political Culture of Social Justice and Good Governance in Cuba
Damián Fernández, Director, Cuban Research Institute, Florida International University, U.S.

Cuba's Strategic Economic Reorientation
Archibald R. M. Ritter, Professor of Economics and International Affairs, Carleton University, Canada

Más allá de la yuma: Cubans' Perceptions of International Society and its Role in the Island's Future
Katrin Hansing, Principle Investigator, University of Bayreuth, Germany

The role of the diaspora, including the effect of Cuban-American remittances, on issues of social justice
Velia Cecilia Bobes León, Professor, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales-Mexico

Democracy Assistance in Cuba: Constraints and Stigma
Christopher Sabatini, Senior Director for Policy, Americas Society/Council of the Americas, U.S.

Managing Post-Conflict Issues
Marina S. Ottaway, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, U.S.

Cuba as a Caribbean Actor: Challenges to Mutual Democratization and Social Justice
Anthony P. Maingot, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Florida International University, U.S.

The Social and Governance Dimension of EU Policy towards Cuba
Susanne Gratius, Researcher, FRIDE - Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior, Spain

Dancing with the Dialecticians:  A Cuban and American Experience
Michael Kergin, Former Canadian Ambassador to the United States

Hemispheric Trends and Implications for US policy Towards Cuba and the Region
Peter Hakim, President, Inter-American Dialogue, U.S.

Policy Brief: Lessons for Cuba from the Latin American Experience
Cuban Research Institute, FLACSO-Mexico (Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences) and FOCAL (the Canadian Foundation for the Americas)

Gobernanza y Justicia,
Luis F. Aguilar, Director, Gerencia Pública, U.S.

Cuba: Governance and Social Justice Cuba's Transition: Lessons from other Countries
Myrna Alexander, Independent Consultant, Canada

Contribución a los estudios de pobreza en Cuba. Una caracterización de la Capital
Lia Añé Aguiloche, Profesora Adjunta de la Universidad de la Habana e Investigadora del Centro de Estudios de Población y Desarrollo de Cuba, Cuba

Cuba’s “Equity without Growth” Model: What's Wrong with this Formula,
Javier Corrales, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Amherst College, U.S.

Justicia social y re-territorialización en Cuba
Haroldo Dilla Alfonso, Dominican Republic

Reforma económica y política social en Cuba. Perspectivas para una modernización de la gestión social
Mayra P. Espina Prieto, Centro de Investigaciones Psicológicas y Sociológicas, Cuba

Economía y nivel de vida en Cuba: avances y retos
Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva, Profesor Titular del Centro de Estudios de la Economía Cubana de la Universidad de la Habana, Cuba

Logros, límites y tareas pendientes de la democratización política chilena
Manuel Antonio Garretón M., Profesor Titular, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Chile

El estado del debate sobre la inequidad en América Latina
Florencia Jubany, Senior Analyst, FOCAL, Canada

Política económica y justicia social en Cuba en el contexto de la reversión de las reformas
Mauricio de Miranda Parrondo, Profesor, Pontífica Universidad Javeriana de Cali and Associate Professor, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain

El Discurso de la Justicia en Cuba
Rafael Rojas, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), Mexico

Cuba’s Top Social Justice Challenge: Bridging the Earnings Gap
Philip Peters, Vice President, Lexington Institute, U.S.


A View of the Hemisphere



Explore the link between governance and development.