The Effect of economic restrictions on transport practices in Cuba

Enoch, Marcus; Warren, James P.; Valdes Rios, Humberto and Henríquez Menoyo, Enrique (2004). The Effect of economic restrictions on transport practices in Cuba. Transport Policy, 11(1) pp. 67–76.




Like many developing nations, Cuba has undergone - and continues to undergo - a revolution in the way its society lives, works and accesses mobility. However, unlike other developing nations, Cuba is unique in that it has faced enormous pressures for the past forty years due to an economic blockade by its erstwhile dominant trading partner, the United States. Furthermore, this economic pressure was exacerbated in the early 1990s with the political and economic collapse of the Former Soviet Union, and the Eastern European Socialist countries – which had replaced the United States as Cuba's principal trading partners. These events have led to a transformation in how goods and people are moved, not least because of a huge reduction in the amount of hard currency available to pay for fuel, vehicles and spare parts. This resulted in a number of innovative behavioural and technological outcomes.
Cuba thus provides an enhanced example of how physical, economic and social factors influence the development of transport systems. This unusually severe situation contains lessons for other countries seeking to develop more sustainable transport systems. In particular, the case graphically illustrates the link between economic and transport growth. The paper will outline the development of transport practices in Cuba thus far, look at the options available for the future and draw conclusions on what other countries can learn from the Cuban experience.

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