How Cuba survived a huge oil shock

From a conference on Peak Oil (scroll down for the Cuba part)

Their point is, Cuba survived a sudden and massive lack of oil when the
USSR collapsed, and survived well. Peak Oil proponents believe the
supply of oil is lessening. Thus, where Cuba was, is where the US may be,
and sooner rather than later.

As conference participants point out, Peak Oil people are a hugely
mixed lot politically. Everything from neocons to socialists, but they
all agree, oil is starting to run out, and that we’d best start
planning on what to do.

The author of the post is skeptical about Cuba yet realizes their
recovery from a hugely decreased oil supply makes an instructive lesson
for all.

came a video by Faith Morgan on the results of two trips to Cuba to
explore the experience following that country’s 50% oil shock after the
collapse of the Soviet Union. Many people think this is an interesting
laboratory for peak oil – what happens to a somewhat developed
industrial-agricultural economy following major oil supply loss.

The story in the video, which is fairly compelling, is that the Cubans
suffered massive hardship, but came through it. They made a top down
decision to completely switch from a Soviet-style collectivized
industrial agriculture to small-scale organic production (in many cases
giving farmers long-term individualized land tenure for the first
time), and made widespread use of urban gardens. They imported millions
of bikes from China, and used extensive bus runs to get people around.
During the “special period”, they lost 30lb on average! But very few
people died and the regime survived. Their diet has improved enormously
as they eat much more fresh produce now.

One of the points that was
particularly interesting in the video is that it seems the Cubans had
written contingency plans for major oil supply loss, in case of a US
blockade of the island. One of the speakers asserted that this was
critical to their success – they only had time to carry out one plan,
and if they’d been making it up as they went, they probably wouldn’t
have made it.

Which is precisely why Cuba survived Ivan, a Cat 5 hurricane, with no
deaths while the US had hundreds of deaths from Katrina. Cuba had a
workable civil defense plan and everyone already knew what to do, the
US didn’t. Nor does the US have a plan for when oil starts getting