Inventores: Overcoming Barriers to the Exchange of Money, Goods, and Information in Cuba

dc.contributor.advisorStorr, Virgil H
dc.creatorHobson, Anne
dc.description.abstractDespite political and economic volatility and limitations on travel, exchange, and employment, the Cuban people have demonstrated resilience. This dissertation examines the mechanisms—entrepreneurship, transnational ties, and information flows – that contribute to their resilience. As one Cuban stated, “Cubans are inventors; we always come up with solutions and we always come up strong.” By analyzing historical accounts and literature, in-person interviews conducted in Havana in 2016 and 2019, and survey data from 2020, this dissertation shows how Cubans leverage transnational remittance networks and find entrepreneurial ways to exchange money, goods, and information. Chapter 1 applies the theories of entrepreneurship, as developed by Joseph Schumpeter and Israel Kirzner, to understand the creative ways Cubans receive and use remittance money sent from the United States to provide private aid. This chapter examines remittance activities between the U.S. and Cuba since 1993 and finds that remittance senders, recipients, and aid providers act as entrepreneurs by leveraging local, context-specific knowledge and social connections to identify needs and invent new, creative ways to provide aid. Chapter 2 further analyzes the behavior of remittance-senders through the lens of economic circuits, as developed by Viviana Zelizer, and coproduction, as developed by Elinor Ostrom. Analysis of survey data and interviews reveal that the transnational ties that make up circuits act as a mechanism not just for economic relief, but for social, economic, and institutional exchange in Cuba. Further, it finds that US policy changes in 2019 affected between 12 and 36 percent of remittance senders by restricting either the desired amount they wished to send or limiting the intended recipient pool. Chapter 3 examines the role of popularly remitted items, such as cell phones and computers, that facilitate the flow of digital information and communication between Cubans and Americans. It finds that remittance networks promote access to information and ideas from abroad has a net positive effect on social and economic outcomes and can lead to persistent institutional change.
dc.format.extent101 pages
dc.format.mediumdoctoral dissertations
dc.rightsCopyright 2022 Anne Hobson
dc.subjectEconomic circuits
dc.subject.keywordsLatin American studies
dc.titleInventores: Overcoming Barriers to the Exchange of Money, Goods, and Information in Cuba
dc.typeText Mason University in Economics


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