Cuban Corporate Governance at the Crossroads: Cuban Marxism, Private Economic Collectives and Free Market Globalism

Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2005

117 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2005

See all articles by Larry Catá Backer

Larry Catá Backer

Pennsylvania State University - Dickinson Law


Sooner or later, Cuba will have to engage with globalization. This article considers whether it will be possible Cuba to remain true to its Marxist-Leninist principles of political and economic organization, and simultaneously embrace the emerging system of economic globalization. China appears to have accomplished this goal, Cuba could follow China's example. Despite all of the potential benefits to Cuba, a number of factors may make it impossible for Cuba to successfully implement a Cuba-appropriate version of the Chinese model of engagement with globalization. This paper considers six of the strongest arguments against adopting the Chinese model in Cuba. First, it is not clear that the Chinese model of global economic engagement has actually worked as advertised in China. Second, the Chinese model may not translate well to the Cuban context. The sort of engagement consistent with Maoist understandings of Marxist-Leninist theory may be impossible in the context of Cuba's more Stalinist system of politico-economic organization - at least without what in Cuba would be viewed as a substantial shift in the nature of the governing ideology. Third, neither Cuba nor China has solved the core foundational problem of economic development through independent collectives, legal entities that are not an integral part of the state apparatus controlled by the Communist party. Neither China's Maoist Marxist-Leninist theory, nor Cuba's Stalinist version have satisfactorily solved the central contradiction of Marxist-Leninist engagement - the privatization of economic activity essentially directed by autonomous economic collectives regulated by the state. Fourth, Cuba continues to actively resist integration into global patterns of capital. Fifth, Cuba is in a poor position to compete globally - its labor is expensive, its products overpriced, and its infrastructure in need of development in comparison to other developing states. Last, and most perversely, the subjective and highly emotional 'special relationship' between Cuba and the United States limits objective consideration of alternatives and thereby constrains choice. The paper concludes by suggesting that despite the problems, there are significant elements in the Chinese model worth adopting, elements that are already, to some extent, present in the current Cuban approach to engagement with globalization.

Keywords: Corporations, globalization, economic development, china, cuba, privatization

JEL Classification: F02,H10,H87,K20,K22,O10,P21,P26,P29,P31,P33

Suggested Citation

Backer, Larry Catá, Cuban Corporate Governance at the Crossroads: Cuban Marxism, Private Economic Collectives and Free Market Globalism. Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2005. Available at SSRN:

Larry Catá Backer (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University - Dickinson Law ( email )

Lewis Katz Building
University Park, PA 16802
United States

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