- Cuba's GDP growth in the 1st half of this year was 1%, while Cuba's current economic plan called for 2% growth.
- The slow growth is partly attributable to the worldwide plunge of commodity prices, and partly to a reduction in fuel from Venezuela.
- Venezuela is facing its own economic crisis, considerably more acute than Cuba's. Plunging oil prices have devastated the state sector, which employs about 30% of Venezuelans, while a drought has lowered food production and brought the water level at a dam that supplies 75% of Venezuela's electrical power to a record low. Government experiments with price controls and special U.S. dollar markets have exacerbated the situation by encouraging hoarding and speculation. Food is in short supply. Venezuela has cut back on oil exports, including to Cuba, imperiling government social programs, to use oil for its own emergency requirements.
- Although some of the embargo's provisions have been loosened, the U.S. still maintains a variety of economic sanctions against Cuba, including a ban on most direct exports to Cuba as well as a prohibition on any commerce (besides remittances and tourist spending) involving dollars.
- Cuba has responded to the crisis with orders to cut electricity and fuel use in the state sector to reduce expenses, and to scale back plans for expansion of social programs, while maintaining its commitment not to cut current social services or reduce aid to Venezuela. It has also received an aid package from Vietnam.