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Sida's work in Cuba

Cuba has been governed by the Communist Party of Cuba since the revolution of 1959. The vast majority of Cubans continue to live in straitened circumstances and membership of independent organisations is illegal. The purpose of Sida’s development cooperation is to contribute to modernising the country where the conditions exist and to strengthen respect for human rights and freedom of speech.

Sida’s support to Cuba 2020

Progress has been made

Better access to the internet

The number of internet users in Cuba has increased over recent years.

Economic and social reforms

New economic and social reforms have created some optimism for the future.

New constitution

The country’s new constitution expresses increased respect for human rights and opens up for same-sex marriage.

Challenges remain

Internet is limited and controlled

Although increased internet access may allow more people to make their voices heard, large parts of the internet remain blocked and those who express criticism on social media are likely to be arbitrarily detained.

Widespread sexism

Cuban society is still characterised by patriarchal structures and sexism. Violence against women is on the rise and the LGBTQ community remains vulnerable.

Practically governed as a one-party state

The Cuban Constitution states that the Communist Party of Cuba “is the superior driving force of the society and the State”.

Development cooperation in Cuba

The Cuban Constitution prohibits political parties other than the Communist Party of Cuba. An updated economic and social reform programme was presented in 2020, largely based on earlier, as-yet unimplemented proposals for modernisation.

Life expectancy is among the highest in the region and the literacy level is very high. Cubans have low incomes and many survive on the subsidies provided by the regime. Cubans in general lack any possibility to improve their own standard of living.

Human rights, gender equality and democratic development

Cuba is a one-party state without free and democratic elections. Civil and political rights such as freedom of speech are severely restricted. Dissidents are routinely detained and harassed by the police and security services. Activists are prevented from travelling and the state holds political prisoners.

Reducing gender-based violence

While Cuba is undoubtedly marked by patriarchal structures, it is relatively more gender equal than other countries in the region. That said, gender-based violence is common and the LGBTQI community faces discrimination. Sida supports a number of Cuban stakeholders working to reduce gender-based violence.

Strengthening democratic development

Cuba does not have an independent judiciary. Through support to the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC), Sida contributes to strengthening democratic development in Cuba based on the rule of law.

Ilac web page

Improving the standard of living

60 percent of Cuba’s population receives financial support from a family member who has left the country. Agricultural productivity is falling and 80% of all food is imported. State economic policy is restricting people’s ability to earn a living and presents an obstacle to starting a business.

The financial sector's role in development

Cuba finds itself in an economic crisis – not least due to stricter sanctions imposed by the United States and the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, Cuba’s most important trading partner. Sida supports a study programme offered by Universidad de la República de Uruguay that contributes to increasing knowledge of the role of the financial sector in development among Cuban higher education institutions and several of the country’s ministries.

Universidad de la República de Uruguays web page

Supporting small-business owners and farmers

Over recent years a new sector of entrepreneurs and private-sector workers has emerged. Through Diakonia, Sida contributes to local Cuban organisations that support small-business owners and farmers.

Diakonia web page

Training programme for modernising banks

There is a lack of knowledge in Cuba regarding how modern banking works. In the interests of contributing to sustainable international banking sector, the International Council of Swedish Industry (NIR) collaborates in a comprehensive training programme with Central Bank of Cuba.

International Council of Swedish Industry web page

Governance of Sida's development cooperation with Cuba

Updated: 4 August 2021