International engagement with Cuba is limited by many factors: the relatively narrow scope of projects of interest to Cuban authorities, the lack of independent Cuban organizations that can enter international partnerships on their own, Cuban centralization and bureaucracy, and the ideological gap that has for four decades separated Cuba from much of the rest of the world, accentuated earlier this year by the long-term imprisonment of dozens of pro-democracy activists and independent journalists.
Yet foreign governments and organizations have substantial involvement in Cuba. There are extensive trading relationships, about 400 joint ventures with foreign capitalist corporations in many sectors of the Cuban economy, a variety of aid and economic development projects, collaboration in law enforcement and other matters, academic and cultural exchanges, and humanitarian projects. Even Americans are involved, through humanitarian aid channeled through Cuban churches, family remittances that constitute Cuba’s largest source of foreign exchange earnings, and a variety of cultural and other exchanges.
This paper examines four areas where foreign governments and organizations have established diverse projects: Canadian environmentalists helping to preserve Cuba’s environment, Spanish architects helping to restore Cuba’s colonial heritage, international law enforcement agencies working with Cuba to stop narcotics traffic, and UN programs that promote local economic and social development.
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