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The Knowledge Economy and Socialism: Science and Society in Cuba

“Cuba’s future must, by necessity, be a future of scientists,” Fidel Castro proclaimed in 1960. As Agustín Lage Dávila shows in this pathbreaking book, Cuba has in fact become a global leader in both the generation and application of scientific knowledge—as demonstrated by its ubiquitous production of socially useful products, from vaccines and medicines, to organic food. Speaking from his position as a noted Cuban immunologist, Dr. Lage shows how Cuba achieved such prominence, positing that the training of its scientists, their scientific practices, and their relationships with the Cuban people are intimately connected to the socialist culture that derived from the Cuban Revolution.

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Socialism and the Knowledge Economy: Cuban Biotechnology

As authoritatively stated in an editorial in Nature, vol. 436, issue 7049 (July 2005), “Cuba has developed a considerable [scientific] research capability—perhaps more so than any other developing country outside of Southeast Asia.” Cuba has been especially successful in establishing a biotechnology industry that has effectively introduced drugs and vaccines of its own, along with a nascent pharmaceutical industry that has achieved considerable success in exports. Its agriculture and health sectors have been strong beneficiaries of its scientific research. As Nature observed: “It is worth asking how Cuba did it, and what lessons other countries might draw from it.” Indeed, the Cuban case is all the more surprising since it is not only a poor country, but one that has been confronted for decades by a ruthless embargo imposed by the United States, which has been extended to scientific knowledge. Moreover, much of Cuba’s scientific progress has occurred in the decade and a half since the fall of the Soviet Union, which previously had aided it economically and technologically | more…