The meaning of black swan in the context of this brief is an event or
series of events that would carry extreme impact but have a small probability
of occurrence.  As a precautionary
measure, travelers should be aware of such risks in the unlikely event that
such circumstances transpire. Of primary concern is the potential for a collapse of the Cuban economy.

There are several casus bellis that could potentially trigger this black swan
event:

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Inefficient domestic
economy: In 2011, the Cuban
government launched a series of economic reforms aiming to modernize and
stabilize the Cuban economy by encouraging growth in the private sector.  While these programs have been successful in developing
industries that encourage the Cuban economy to diversify away from primarily
extractive exports, recent trends have shown growth to be uneven as the
introduction of new market mechanisms has caused the role of the state to
shrink and the stratification of inequality and poverty to rise.1  Given
the added economic strain of damages caused by Hurricane Irma and the sudden
freezing of bilateral relations with the U.S., any additional financial burden could
potentially trigger a collapse in the Cuban economy thereby initiating
widespread civil unrest.

 

Oil import volatilities: Economic
uncertainty is further exacerbated by the instability in Venezuela, a country
that is responsible for supplying oil at a reduced price to Cuba which accounts
for nearly two-thirds of the Cuba’s energy consumption. 2 The instability in Venezuela has already
resulted in a steep reduction in oil exports to Cuba.3 If the U.S. imposes
economic sanctions on Venezuela, the Venezuelan economy could be subject to further
volatility which would further reduce the country’s capacity for oil exports to
Cuba. Cuba has already cut public lighting by 50% in efforts to reduce energy
consumption.4 Any further reduction in oil
imports would force the Cuban government to seek alternative sources for energy
which would likely be exponentially more expensive than its current arrangement
with Venezuela. Such an event could bankrupt its already contracting economy
and cause an economic crisis that could trigger massive civil unrest in Cuba.

 

Before
leaving for Havana, Unity Coalition members are strongly encouraged to enroll
in the State Department’s Traveler Enrollment Program in order to receive messages
about relevant security threats throughout the trip. Enrollment in the program also
makes it easier for U.S. officials to locate travelers in an emergency.  During an emergency, contact the American Citizens Services Unit at (53) (7) 839-4100. 

1 Hansing, “Race and Inequality in the New Cuba.”

2 Will
Grant, “Cuban Concerns over Venezuela’s Economic Woes,” BBC News, March
11, 2016, sec. Latin America & Caribbean,
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-35686683.

3 “Cuba.,”
Country Report (PRS Group, Inc., January 2017), buh, http://it.ceu.hu/vpn.

4 Marianna
Parraga and Marc Frank, “Venezuela Oil Exports to Cuba Drop, Energy Shortages
Worsen,” Reuters, July 13, 2017,
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-cuba-oil-exclusive/exclusive-venezuela-oil-exports-to-ally-cuba-drop-13-percent-documents-idUSKBN19Y183.