A Winter Thaw

Adam Justin ’15

Wednesday’s surprise announcement by the Obama Administration and Cuban President Raul Castro caused quite the stir, in Miami, in American politics, and right here at Columbia Business School. Forty of us, one TA and our professor, have been preparing to visit Cuba for the past six weeks. We’ve been preparing ourselves to survey a country that time passed by, a country where credit cards don’t work, and exploring what it would mean if relations between Cuba and the United States were ever to thaw. And then, Wednesday, the headline broke, ‘Cuba and the United States to normalize relations!’ Here we are, in the middle of this development, where conjecture is becoming reality.

Havanna HP 1

Our class studied the Cuban economic system, and how industries work in comparison to the capitalist system in which we all live and work. We have formed groups, and are diving deep into a dozen industries, to learn how these sectors work in Cuba, and how the industry will change as the country enters the global community in new ways. In our last classroom session, we discussed these projects. One that I’ll highlight was a group’s research on professional baseball in Cuba. In the United States, the most successful athletes become fabulously wealthy, reaching celebrity status, collecting cars, homes, boats, and more. Not so in Cuba. And the same is true in many industries. The economy, and really the society, was built differently than here in the United States. When we’re young, we dream of being lawyers, business people, and yes athletes, often paired with dreams of being rich. What do young Cubans dream of? What does this week’s announcement from our government’s mean for our southern neighbors’ dreams for their futures? Are Cuban baseball players headed to the MLB?

It is a exciting time to be headed to Havana. And yes, I will be bringing back Cuban cigars, thanks to this winter thaw.

Vignales HP 3

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