Katrin Hansing / Bert Hoffmann

Cuba's New Social Structure: Assessing the Re-Stratification of Cuban Society 60 Years after Revolution

GIGA Working Paper, No. 315, February 2019

Abstract
Few political transformations have attacked social inequalities more thoroughly than the 1959 Cuban Revolution. However, as the survey data in this paper shows, 60 years on, structural inequalities which echo the pre-revolutionary socio-ethnic hierarchies are returning. While official Cuban statistics are mute about social differences along racial lines, the authors were able to conduct a unique, nationwide survey which shows the contrary. If the revolutionary, state-run economy and radical social policies were the main social elevators for the formerly underprivileged classes in socialist Cuba, the economic crisis and depressed wages of the past decades have seriously undercut these achievements. Moreover, previously racialised migration patterns have produced highly unequal levels of access to family remittances, and the gradual opening of the private business sector in Cuba has largely disfavoured Afro-Cubans, due to their lack of access to pre-revolutionary property and remittances in the form of start-up capital. While social and racial inequalities have not yet reached the levels of other Latin American countries, behind the face of socialist continuity a profound restructuring of Cuban society is taking place.

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GIGA Authors

Prof. Dr. Bert Hoffmann

Lead Research Fellow
Head GIGA Berlin Office

Prof. Dr. Bert Hoffmann is a lead research fellow at the GIGA Institute for Latin American Studies, Head of the GIGA Berlin Office, and Professor of Political Science at Freie Universität Berlin. He works on political and social developments in Latin America and the Caribbean, and is senior researcher in the EU-funded Jean Monnet Network project “Europe Cuba Forum.”

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GIGA Focus Latin America, 03/2020