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).