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What’s it really like to live in communist Cuba today? In this episode, host Russ Roberts welcomes back the University of Chicago’s Casey Mulligan, who recently returned from a week-long trip there. Mulligan’s observations on the current state of the Cuban people, as well as his optimism for their future, made for fascinating conversation, and left me with lots to think about.

Now it’s your turn…What’s the promise of freedom for Cubans today? Is it merely a dream that’s always just around the corner, or will the Castro regime continue to allow for change in the form of less state control? Have you ever been to Cuba? If so, how does your experience compare to Mulligan’s?



1. Mulligan has a lot to say about the differences he perceived between Cuban-Americans and “Cuban-Cubans.” What are some of these differences, and what does Mulligan believe accounts for them? What do you think such differences suggest?


2. What has been the effect of the American trade embargo on Cuba, according to Mulligan? Does he underestimate the power of the embargo as a propaganda weapon against the Castro regime as Roberts suggests? What do you think- was the embargo a good idea? What sort of policy ought the United States adopt toward Cuba today, and why?


3. What does Mulligan mean when he suggests that the Castro regime “has passed some kind of market test?” Is he right? What does this suggest about other totalitarian regimes in place in the world today?


4. Which of Mulligan’s observations about life in Cuba today most surprised you, and why? Are you as optimistic about the Cuban people’s future as Mulligan? Why?