Postscript: The Cuban Crisis in the
Summer of 1993--An Opportunity
for the United States?

Donald E. Schulz

Since the preceding chapters were completed, a number of developments have occurred which have implications for the authors' analyses, as well as for their conclusions and recommendations. One is the accelerating deterioration of the Cuban socioeconomic situation. In March 1993, Cuba was hit by a devastating storm, which flooded Havana, crippling the island's power grid, causing extensive harm to its crops, and leaving some 150,000 people homeless. Official estimates placed the damage at around $1 billion which, if true, amounted to nearly a tenth of the economy, or the equivalent of almost half of Cuba's imports for the previous year. Not long thereafter, reports of a mysterious epidemic began to circulate, sowing panic throughout the populace. Tens of thousands of Cubans, it seemed, were in danger of going blind, apparently due (at least in part) to Vitamin B deficiencies. 1

By now, most Cubans had been largely without meat or dairy products for two years. Milk was available mainly for children under the age of seven. Adults were receiving one egg a month from government-controlled stores. There was no beef, pork, or chicken (except on the black market, if you could afford it). There were no fruits or vegetables, except for black beans, rice, and lettuce. In desperation, some Cubans had taken to eating their pets. Indeed, Guantanamo reported a heavy infestation of banana rats, fleeing for their lives into that American-held naval base.

The passing months brought no relief. In late May, the government disclosed that the sugar harvest had fallen to around 4.28 million tons, down from 7 million tons the previous year. This was the sharpest drop in output in the country's history. Moreover, a few days later the island was hit by another torrential storm. Subsequently, officials announced that Cuba would be unable to fulfill its sugar commitments to foreign clients. With little to celebrate and anxious to avoid gathering large numbers of people together, the government announced the cancellation of the traditional 26th of July

-175-

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