Posted on Thursday, 11.17.11
UN report now accepts Cuban data
Havana was not on a previous development list because of questions about
By Juan O. Tamayo
A United Nations agency has returned Cuba to its national development
ranking after a year of exile to a separate list that included North
Korea and Eritrea because of doubts about data provided by Havana.
The Human Development Report for 2011, produced by the U.N. Development
Programme and published earlier this month, ranked Cuba 51st in the
world and fifth in Latin America and the Caribbean, behind Chile,
Argentina, Barbados and Uruguay. Cuba had the same ranking in 2009.
The UNDP index, which combines economic, education, health and some
human rights indicators to rank countries on a scale of national
development, ranked Norway first in the world and the United States fourth.
It has been issued annually since 1990, but last year the UNDP left Cuba
out of it main rankings list, noting that the manner in which the island
computes some of its economic figures makes it too difficult to compare
with other countries. Cuba counts the value of government services, such
as healthcare and education — a method not used by others.
Instead, the UNDP put Cuba on a list of other countries and territories
whose statistics were not comparable, missing or too small to provide
reliable indications of development. It included Grenada, Eritrea,
Samoa, Iraq, Somalia and North Korea.
The 2010 report added that Cuba was "currently revising and updating its
international statistics in order to establish internationally
comparable data," and it expressed hope "that in due time comparable …
data will become available.''
The 2011 report said only that a key indicator of Cuba's economy,
purchasing power parity, had been "estimated" but gave no details of how
that was done and did not mention the island had been left off the 2010
Carmelo Mesa-Lago, a University of Pittsburgh expert on the Cuban
economy who has complained repeatedly to the UNDP about its acceptance
of Havana's data, said he was surprised by the island's return to the
main list. "Nothing new has happened, in terms of statistics, that would
allow them to reach a more reliable estimate," Mesa-Lago said.
Dissident economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe complained the new ranking was
based on official Cuban government figures that don't appear to match
the reality of life on the communist-ruled island. It's difficult to
accept Cuba's ranking, he said, when the Cuban government regularly
violates human rights and is struggling to reform an economy that is all