• Cuba;
  • economic reform;
  • Old Havana;
  • Barrio Chino;
  • Chinatown;
  • Lineamientos;
  • China

In April 2011 the Cuban government announced a suite of national reforms with deeper socioeconomic ramifications than the limited liberalizations it permitted in the 1990s. Although unprecedented in revolutionary Cuba, the proposed changes draw on previous efforts to manage decentralization, employment and the informal sector. The paper examines two case studies of prior experimentation with liberalization since 2000 in the municipality of Old Havana and the neighbouring district, Barrio Chino (Chinatown). We argue that the 2011 reforms are informed by specific lessons and insights from these two experiences and also by general development principles advocated by China.