Trying to do some research on the Cuban economy. Just wondering how the cold war hurt the economy of Cuba and how so, although I believe it had no effect. Any specific evidence would help.

  • Maybe this is a stupid question, but are you referring to the blockade, or something before that? Apr 21, 2016 at 8:17

1 Answer 1


Well sure, after the crisis, US/Cuba relations were nearly irreparably damaged, causing an extension and expansion of sanctions and embargoes against Cuba (1). You might say, however, that it was just one step of many that have worked against the Cuban economy and culminated with the dissolution of the Soviet Union (5).

Cuba had established ties with the Soviet Union in '59 (2) which caused tensions and hostilities before and leading up to the missile crisis. This was also the first year that Fidel Castro came into power via the Cuban Revolution(3), and the Soviet Union was reportedly surprised to find that they could have an ally so close to the US (2).

The Soviet Union took pride in the defense and support of Cuba (2):

The defense of Cuba became a matter of prestige for the Soviet Union, and Khruschev believed that the U.S. would block all access to the island whether by sea or air. Even in the 1980s the Soviet aid wasn't very important, but rather a regular trade with Cuba of more than $8.5 billion in 1989 was reached. But already in 1990 the trade was reduced to $4.5 billion.[5]

The Soviets tried to help (2):

Washington's increasing economic embargo led Cuba to hurriedly seek new markets to avert economic disaster. Castro asked for help from the Soviets and in response Khrushchev approved the temporary purchase of Cuban sugar in exchange for Soviet fuel. This deal was to play a part in sustaining the Cuban economy for many years to come.

The "Special Period" (4):

The dissolution of the Soviet Union hit the Cuban economy severely. The country lost approximately 80% of its imports, 80% of its exports and its Gross Domestic Product dropped by 34%. Food and medicine imports stopped or severely slowed. The largest immediate impact was the loss of nearly all of the petroleum imports from the USSR;[2] Cuba's oil imports dropped to 10% of pre-1990 amounts.[3] Before this, Cuba had been re-exporting any Soviet petroleum it did not consume to other nations for profit, meaning that petroleum had been Cuba's second largest export product before 1990.

A blogger (7) wrote:

If you want to take a step back into automotive time, then you need to go to Cuba. That’s a rule in the automotive industry. Havana itself is beautiful, with its brightly colored—if slightly dusty—buildings and milling streets, but there is nothing quite as beautiful as seeing a line of classic cars sitting at an intersection like it’s no big deal.

Why are there so many old American cars in Cuba? (6):

Until the 1960 embargo, most new vehicles came to Cuba from the United States until the 1960 United States embargo against Cuba ended both importation of cars and their parts. As many as 60,000 American vehicles are in use,[10] nearly all in private hands. Of Cuba's vintage American cars, many have been modified with newer engines, disc brakes and other parts, often scavenged from Soviet cars, and most bear the marks of decades of use.[11] Pre-1960 vehicles remain the property of their original owners and descendants, and can be sold to other Cubans providing the proper traspaso certificate is in place. Such transactions can be difficult, but in 2010, reforms were expected to legalize the sale between Cuban citizens of all cars.[12]

  1. WikiPedia: United States embargo against Cuba: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_embargo_against_Cuba
  2. WikiPedia: Cuba–Soviet Union relations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba%E2%80%93Soviet_Union_relations
  • Although the claimed events seem to be true, this answer desperately needs further expansion. The OP asks for specific evidences how the missile crisis and the Cold war affected (or not) Cuban economy, so please consider adding some numbers (statistics) and credible references. Apr 22, 2016 at 23:35
  • How's that? Was it correct to edit the answer in-place?
    – Jon Jaques
    Apr 23, 2016 at 20:04
  • You have footnotes marked from (1) to (7) in your answer but only two links at the bottom. Would you care to also mention what the sources 3-7 are? When you lack the reputation, please add them as code or post them as comments so someone else can edit them in.
    – Philipp
    May 24, 2016 at 11:27
  • Aha, yes, it didn't allow me to list them due to lack of reputation. I'll dig up my document that i saved, and do as you say to include the rest of the references.
    – Jon Jaques
    May 25, 2016 at 14:38

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