Cuban Energy Pol­icy: Back­cast­ing A Sus­tain­able Energy Future

May 9, 2003 - 5:00 PM

Dr. Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado
Uni­ver­sity of Nebraska at Omaha

The loss of Soviet sub­si­dies dev­as­tated the Cuban econ­omy and led to an energy cri­sis on the island that per­sisted through­out the 1990s. This cri­sis revealed the extent to which 30 years of favor­able trade arrange­ments had done lit­tle if any­thing at all in pro­vid­ing Cuba with energy secu­rity. The Cuban energy pol­icy responses have begun to pro­duce some pos­i­tive results but will they be suf­fi­cient in pro­vid­ing Cuban policy-makers, and more impor­tantly, its pop­u­la­tion with secure energy sources for the future? Cuban energy pol­icy state­ments were filled with allu­sions to effi­ciency, con­ser­va­tion and most impor­tantly, sus­tain­abil­ity. Benjamin-Alvarado dis­cusses energy sus­tain­abil­ity in the­ory and in prac­tice. This includes a dis­cus­sion of the eco­nomic, social and envi­ron­men­tal dimen­sions of sus­tain­abil­ity. Specif­i­cally, he seeks to take this dis­cus­sion beyond rhetoric by intro­duc­ing indi­ca­tors for mea­sur­ing Cuban energy pol­icy sus­tain­abil­ity. After pre­sent­ing sta­tis­ti­cal mea­sure­ments of energy pol­icy sus­tain­abil­ity in Cuba, Benjamin-Alvarado offers an assess­ment of Cuba’s effort to insti­tute sus­tain­able energy objec­tives. He con­cludes by intro­duc­ing another per­spec­tive on energy pol­icy plan­ning, that of back-casting, that may be use­ful to Cuban offi­cials in their quest of this illu­sive and yet vitally impor­tant objective.

Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado is an Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor of Polit­i­cal Sci­ence at the Uni­ver­sity of Nebraska at Omaha, with an empha­sis on Com­par­a­tive Pol­i­tics. He is also a Vis­it­ing Senior Research Asso­ciate with the Uni­ver­sity of Georgia’s Cen­ter for Inter­na­tional Trade and Secu­rity spe­cial­iz­ing on Latin Amer­i­can eco­nomic devel­op­ment and non­pro­lif­er­a­tion affairs. He has con­ducted research related to Cuba’s efforts to develop a nuclear energy capa­bil­ity and broader energy devel­op­ment issues and is rec­og­nized as one of the United States’ lead­ing spe­cial­ists in this issue area. Since 1992, he has vis­ited Cuba 15 times for field research on the nuclear energy devel­op­ment pro­gram and has con­ducted inter­views with a num­ber of senior gov­ern­ment offi­cials in Cuba’s nuclear and related agen­cies. He has pub­lished arti­cles, mono­graphs and com­men­taries on this sub­ject in Span­ish, Russ­ian and Eng­lish in news­pa­pers, schol­arly and pol­icy jour­nals includ­ing The Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion Review, the Bul­letin of the Atomic Sci­en­tists, Cuba in Tran­si­tion, Yaderni Kon­trol and the Chris­t­ian Sci­ence Mon­i­tor. His book, Power to the Peo­ple: Energy and the Cuban Nuclear Pro­gram (2000) was pub­lished by Rout­ledge, Inc. He presently has another book under con­tract with the Uni­ver­sity Press of Florida, titled Cuba’s Energy Strat­egy: Eco­nomic Struc­tures, Tech­no­log­i­cal Choices, and Sus­tain­abil­ity (forth­com­ing 2003).