The Cuban revolution was followed by a
commitment to social security for all. Equality and the
right to education, jobs and health care were guiding
principles for the Communist Party's policies. The
system has now started to loosen up and the gaps in
society are widening.
All Cubans have the right to free schooling, free
medical care and free access to sports facilities.
Electricity and water are free and the rents are very
low. The state social insurance system is comprehensive
and covers everything from sickness and accident
insurance to maternity benefits and pensions. However,
the remuneration is modest and not far enough. The
pressured state economy of recent years has also led to
cuts in certain grants. The retirement age has been
raised to 65 for men and 60 for women.
Countryaah Official Site:
Official statistics for population in Cuba, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
Health care is well developed and Cuban health care
is of a high standard. Diseases such as malaria and
typhoid have been eradicated through improved hygiene
and vaccination programs. Average life expectancy is the
highest in Latin America and infant mortality is as low
as in the West.
The availability of doctors is good. There are almost
twice as many doctors per inhabitant in Cuba as in
Sweden. Preventive care is important. Virtually all
Cubans have a GP who lives in the neighborhood and
regularly comes to check on family health.
However, there is a shortage of medicines and medical
equipment, and other parts of the health care have been
affected by cuts. There are queues for some care.
Welfare in the swing
While the Cubans have been given greater freedom and
can now start their own businesses, take out loans and
have the right to go abroad, the uncertainty has
increased as the government began to upset the
previously granted benefits. Work is no longer a right
and the state has laid off hundreds of thousands of
public employees, more than the emerging private sector
has been able to absorb (see Labor Market). Furthermore,
Cubans have been given the right to sell their homes,
which is to the advantage of those who own a contract
but creates uncertainty for someone who is inherent in
someone else, which is often the case due to a general
shortage of housing.
The reforms have created a gap between those who have
access to dollars from relatives abroad, which
facilitates home buying and business and those who do
not have it. The gap is also widening between employees
in the state sector, where wages are low, and private
employees who have greater opportunities to earn more.
Many Cubans have fared worse than before the deep
economic crisis in the early 1990s (see Modern History).
The majority of household money goes to food. All
households have a ration book (libreta) that gives the
right to buy basic foods at low prices. Purchases are
dotted by the local dealer who records everything that
is sold and makes sure that it is in accordance with the
state directive. The rations include rice, sugar, beans,
oil and smaller quantities of eggs, fish or chicken and
spaghetti. It is difficult to get the rationing products
to last a whole month. Anyone with money can supplement
with purchases at higher prices in regular stores or in
the black market.
The government has announced plans to abolish the
rationing system, but the plans have so far not been
Women and minorities
Women have a strong position. The law gives women the
same rights as men when it comes to divorce, custody of
children and ownership. There are also laws designed to
protect women and children from domestic violence. Women
and men should have equal pay when they do the same work
and as a rule they have it.
The state is advocating that all ethnic groups should
be treated equally, but Cubans with African backgrounds
state that they are subject to police discrimination.
Blacks are also over-represented in poor areas. As
descendants of slaves, they usually do not have
relatives abroad and thus do not receive the same
support and opportunities as the Spanish-born.
There are laws that prevent discrimination against
sexual minorities in the labor and housing markets, as
well as in education and health care. The government
runs LGBTQ issues in an international context but
opposes the Cuban NGOs working on the same issues.
However, LGBT organizations are not harassed not because
of the issues but because they are independent and
outside the system.
Crime, especially violent crime, is at a low level,
although the number of crimes has increased over the
past decade. When it comes to action against drug
trafficking, Cuba cooperates with the United States.
Sources for this text:
Bertelmann Stiftung, Freedom House, Country Reports on
Human Rights Practices for 2017, World Bank, articles in
FACTS - SOCIAL CONDITIONS
4 per 1000 births (2018)
Percentage of HIV infected
0.4 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young women
0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young men
0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean
95.2 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to
92.8 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care per person
US $ 971 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament
53 percent (2018)
The road network is developed around a large
highway that extends across the country in an east-west
direction. But maintenance is neglected and only half of
all roads are paved. Rural roads can be difficult to
access when it rains.
Private motoring is limited. Most private cars date
from the pre-revolution era and have been repaired
numerous times. The main means of transport is bus, but
local traffic is not always reliable and the roads are
bordered by lifts.
Cuba is the only country in the Caribbean that has a
real railroad. Trains are used for both freight and
passenger transport. The rail network is partly in poor
condition, but a refurbishment is underway with
financial support from Russia.
Havana has so far been the most significant of the
country's many ports, but that role is scheduled to be
taken over by a new port inaugurated in early 2014 in
Mariel a few miles west of the capital. The port of
Mariel, built in collaboration with Brazil, can
accommodate larger and more in-depth vessels than
Havana's old port. This makes Mariel an important
transhipment port once the expansion of the Panama Canal
connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans has been
completed. In Mariel, there is also a free trade zone
linked to the port to which the government is trying to
attract foreign companies to establish themselves.
There are a large number of airports, of which ten
can handle international traffic, including Havana,
Santiago, Holguín, Camagüey and Matanzas (Varadero).
Direct flights between Cuba and the US have resumed
following the approach between the countries in
2014–2015 (see Foreign Policy and Defense).