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Globalization and the Socialist Multinational: Cuba and ALBA’s Grannacional Projects at the Intersection of Business and Human Rights

Larry Catá Backer

Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law

August 1, 2010

Consortium for Peace & Ethics No. 2010-7(1)

Cuba and Venezuela have pioneered a new form of socialist multinational enterprise. Grounded in the concepto grannacional these proyectos and empresas grannacionales provide a way for states to engage in globalization directly using forms distinct from the traditional model of state owned enterprises. But engagement with globalization might create conflict with emerging global norms. This paper considers recent to Cuban-led efforts to develop grannacionales and the potential conflicts between these entities and the emerging rules for international business behavior, especially those touching on business and human rights. The paper starts by discussing the basic theory and objectives of the grannacional generally, as a new form of transnational public enterprise, one that is meant to provide a viable challenge to current conventional global systems of economic organization. The focus is on the development of the “concepto grannacional” within the political framework of the socialist trade organization, the Alianza Bolivariana Para los Pueblos de Nuestra América (ALBA). The paper then considers the emerging global consensus for the governance of the human rights effects of business enterprises. The focus is on three approaches — first, through the application of national law, and then through the emergence of two international soft law frameworks, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the U.N. Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights. The paper ends with a consideration of the possible conflicts between these international frameworks and the structural ideology and practices of socialist enterprises through the lens of an example — the system of bartering medical services for petroleum instituted between Cuba and Venezuela.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 39

Keywords: ALBA, Castro, OECD, Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, Ruggie, U.N. Guiding Principles,globalization, human rights, labor markets, regional trade associations, multinational corporations

JEL Classification: B14, E24, F15, J45, L32, K2, O54, P2

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Date posted: July 23, 2010 ; Last revised: September 19, 2011

Suggested Citation

Backer, Larry Catá, Globalization and the Socialist Multinational: Cuba and ALBA’s Grannacional Projects at the Intersection of Business and Human Rights (August 1, 2010). Consortium for Peace & Ethics No. 2010-7(1) . Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1646962 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1646962

Contact Information

Larry Catá Backer (Contact Author)
Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law ( email )
Lewis Katz Building
University Park, PA 16802
United States

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