This is one of the most serious books to appear so far about the Cuban Revolution and its aftermath. It is certainly the best study of labor conditions under the Castro regime. The author is a Cuban who fled the island in 1962, received a Ph. D. at Cornell subsequently, and is now teaching economics at the University of Pittsburgh. The study is based largely on Castroite sources—newspapers, speeches by leaders of the regime, official decrees, and publications.

The author is interested in studying how the Marxist-Leninist labor policies developed earlier in the Soviet Union, China, and other communist-dominated states have been modified and applied to the Cuban Marxist-Leninist system. He opens a preliminary chapter sketching perhaps too summarily the theoretical constructs of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, and Mao Tse-tung concerning the role of labor in the period of transition from capitalism to Communism and particularly their ideas on distribution of income in this phase. Mesa-Lago then studies in some detail various aspects of the problem so far as Cuba is concerned.

There is a chapter devoted to the planning apparatus which has evolved in Castro Cuba and particularly to its role in determining distribution. This is followed by a chapter on individual output standards and how they are calculated, then a discussion of the variety of wage scales which exist and how they are set. The fifth chapter then deals with the question of “Socialist emulation,” including a discussion of the part the trade unions play in this process. The book closes by assessing the application of “the Socialist distribution formula” in terms of production, productivity, and quality of output.

Even one who has followed the evolution of the Fidelista regime fairly closely is likely to find much new and interesting information here. Some, like the reviewer, might wish that the author had gone into more detail on a number of the points which are raised and discussed. The volume is very well documented, however, and anyone who has access to Cuban sources will be able to locate additional details, using the references in Mesa-Lago’s book.

This volume provides insights into a number of questions of great importance in understanding the evolution of Castro’s Cuba. It discusses at some length the issue of the use of material versus “moral” incentives. Also it suggests reasons why the Cuban economy declined so catastrophically during the early 1960s and since then has been unable to come anywhere near the targets set for the sugar industry. It has interesting information on the extent and nature of “voluntary” labor, which plays such an important role in the economy of the Fidelista regime.

The author is not friendly to the Castro regime, as the reader will not need to be reminded. The implications of his discussion for the future of the Castro regime will not please its supporters, nor will many of them be happy with Mesa-Lago’s picture of what Fidel has done to the Cuban working class.

The strength and importance of the book lie not in the author’s point of view, however, but in the facts and figures which he marshals. It should take a place alongside the much more inclusive pro-Castro study edited by Dudley Sears in 1964, as one of the most useful and important sources of information concerning what has actually been taking place in Cuba since 1959.