Juergensmeyer Explores Property Law and Policy in Cuba

Julian Cuba city view In January, Julian Juergensmeyer, Ben F. Johnson Chair in Law, spent a week learning about the technical and theoretical aspects of property law and policy in Cuba with Tulane University Law School’s intersession program. During the visit, Juergensmeyer met with architects, lawyers, sociologists and historical preservationists.

“We engaged in many legal change discussions,” Juergensmeyer says. “While we were there, the government opened the market, allowing Cuban citizens to buy and sell automobiles and apartments. Banks now are able to give small loans. This is an exciting time in Cuba.”

Yet, he understands Cubans have a long way to go and there is confusion and concern about what will happen next. Citizens want a higher standard of living, better food, an end to widespread slum housing and improvements in the infinitely small official wages and salaries. Things are beginning to change rapidly with the development of new laws and focus on restoration, he says.

“I thought all the buildings were falling apart, but was surprised to see that the government has restored many important historic buildings in the old city,” Juergensmeyer says, adding the government is repairing and remodeling some of the city’s most historic landmarks, including the Dome of the Capitolio, ancient churches, such as St Francis of Assisi and the Fine Arts Museum with some of the continent’s best collections of English and Scottish paintings.

“Private preservation also is taking place,” Juergensmeyer says. “They are making progress, but there are other sections that paint a sad picture of crumbling treasures. Historic preservation is going to continue to be a big challenge for the government in the future.”

Juergensmeyer is particularly interested in the Cuban legal system because he taught socialist law in the 1970s and 1980s and conducted research on socialist law throughout Eastern Europe. He also hopes the Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth can offer a Study Space program in Cuba, similar to those the center offered in Barcelona and Istanbul.

Learn more about Juergensmeyer’s trip to Cuba

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