Cuban cab drivers vs. Cuban doctors

This quiz is based on the following three podcasts, all of which have to do with the characteristics of the Cuban economy and the economic changes instituted in Cuba under Raúl Castro since 2008. 1. Vox: “Why Cuban Cab Drivers Earn More than Doctors,” October 26, 2015; 2. WOLA: “Cuba’s Changing Economy,” June 29, 2016; 3. Henken and Ritter: “Entrepreneurial Cuba – A Discussion on Cuba’s Emerging Non-State Sector,” April 8, 2015, Americas Society/Council of the Americas


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1.VOX: Cuban cab drivers vs. Cuban doctors

  1. What’s the difference between what a Cuban cab driver can earn in an average day vs. what a Cuban doctor earns in a month?


  1. What is the official profession of the cab driver featured in the Vox video clip?
  2. Name one thing the Cuban Revolution did in the early 1960s to fundamentally change how the Cuban economy functioned?
  3. Describe the scene in a typical Cuban (state-run) eatery based on the Vox video clip?
  4. What document do Cubans need to have to obtain food (subsidized by the Cuban government)?
  5. Name one difference between a private restaurant and a state-run eatery.
  6. How do Cubans respond when asked how they survive on just $20 per month?
  7. Why is buying a newspaper considered “committing the first crime of the day” by one woman in the Vox video clip?
  8. What percentage of the Cuban economy has become private since Raúl Castro took over?
  9. How many legal political parties exist in today’s Cuba?

2.WOLA: Cuba’s Changing Economy


  1. Name one of the many economic reforms or changes enacted by Raúl Castro in recent years.
  2. What is the official Cuban mantra guiding its economic reforms under Raúl Castro?
  3. How has Cuba’s private real estate market changed in recent years?
  4. What sector of the Cuban economy has benefitted most from recent reforms according to the WOLA podcast episode?
  5. In the episode, we meet a Cuban restaurant owner named Edgar. How many workers does he employ and why is he worried that the government might discover this?
  6. Where does Edgar actuallyget most of his food supplies?
  7. When asked about obstacles or problems in Cuba’s entrepreneurial sector, name one of the recommendations that Edgar gives.
  8. How was the message coming out of Cuba’s April 2016 Communist Party Congress contradictory?
  9. The podcast episode highlights the opinions of Enrique. What is his complaint about the kind of private businesses that predominate in Cuba?
  10. TRUE or FALSE: The economic reforms in Cuba have given most young Cubans a reason to stay and drastically reduced emigration from the island to the U.S.

3.Entrepreneurial Cuba


  1. Arch Ritter half-jokingly mentions that when he first went to Cuba in 1965 he “fell in with the wrong crowd. What does he mean by this?
  2. According to Ritter, when was the 15-20 years of the golden age of Cuban socialism?
  3. What made those years golden and what brought the period to an end?
  4. According to Ritter, why is the book’s title, Entrepreneurial Cuba, NOT an oxymoron?
  5. How many workers did Raúl Castro identify as excess in the state sector who should be fired and redeployed in the private sector?

BONUS: From whom did Ritter buy black market cigars from in Havana?

BONUS: How much did Henken pay for Ritter’s first book?

  1. What are the two sayings (in Spanish or English) that Henken shares to highlight the popular wisdom of Cuba’s entrepreneurial class?
  2. Henken wanted to refer to a group of Cuban business women as cuentapropistas but he was corrected that they prefer to be referred to as WHAT?
  3. Describe what Henken refers to as “Raúl Castro’s economic mambo.”
  4. Name one of the things that Henken praises about Cuba’s reforms in the area of entrepreneurship and the private sector.
  5. Name one of Henken’s criticisms related to where he feels the reforms have not gone far enough.

BONUS: What is the authors’ recommendation about U.S. policy and the U.S. embargo?

BONUS: What news that came out the morning of the presentation does Henken mention in his comment



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