Tag Archives: cuba

“New Chapter” for two countries

Book your flights to Cuba, because barriers and travel warnings are now down. For the first time in half a century tensions between the United States and the island off the coast of Florida, which stood as a dark power during the Cold War times on the side of Russia, have been eased.

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a move to reestablish diplomatic ties with Cuba (Politico). The move and efforts have suddenly been made known to the public as Cuba released a long time U.S. hostage who had been held captive since 2009. Of course U.S. citizen’s lives are important, but what pushed such a big move for friendship after the release of one hostage?

“[Alan] Gross was convicted of espionage by a Cuban court in 2011 and sentenced to 15 years for bringing telecommunication devices into Cuba” (WREG Memphis).

In addition, the United States has released 3 Cuban spies.

President Barack Obama (left) greets Cuban President Raul Castro during the memorial service for Nelson Mandela on Dec. 10, 2013, in Johannesburg, South Africa. | Getty

Although seemingly sudden, the deals between U.S. and Cuban officials has been culminating over the past year. Obama calls the embargoes on Cuba to be a failure.

What this means:

    • Travel restrictions eased
    • Increased exports of U.S. goods to Cuba
    • U.S. travelers to bring in some items
    • Embassies will be opened in both countries

While only Congress can formally overturn the five decades-long embargo, the White House has some authorities to liberalize trade and travel to the island,” WREG Memphis.

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Analysis

With the petro dollar value falling, Russia loosing influence and Venezuela’s economy faltering in the midst of falling prices; some of Cuba’s main financial and export partners are withering at the core. It’s no wonder, if Cuba along with other countries is turning its eye to new partners. It’s not about the prices of oil, but petro politics and who’s producing it. The reality is the U.S. and Canada fracking and shale revolutions are changing dynamics. The global economy and relations are switching as can already be seen as almost a 50-year silence is being broken between two former rival countries.

 

 

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Cuba Opening Up to Trade and Investment

With the hopes that foreign capital will play a large role in the future growth of the Cuban economy, Cuba will kick off November with their 32nd International Fair FIHAV in order to attract foreign investment. In the exhibition, there will be companies from 60 different countries. Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, wants to use the exhibition as a “promotional” for the country.

32nd International Fair hosted in Havana, Cuba. Photo: Trabajadores

This coming Monday, Cuba will launch its official portfolio of businesses that Cuba offers in key sectors of its economy, according to Venezuelan newspaper, Ultimas Noticias. The projects that will be included within the portfolio range from: agribusiness, construction, pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries, and renewable resources among others. These projects are designed to promote development in all of Cuba’s provinces.

In June a new Foreign Investment Law was implemented to stress that the International Fair and Cuban investment will provide “greater incentives and guarantees for investors,” according to the president organizing the fair in Havana. This legislation replaced the one formerly undertaken by Raul Castro in 1995 which reaffirmed the socialism of the island.

With the current Cuban economy, Ultimas Noticias reports, Cuba would need between 2,000-2,500 million dollars a year to sustain its model and its amendments, to which the government has opened its doors to investment. As earlier reported in this blog, the construction of the Mariel Port in Cuba, which is being constructed with the funding of Russia, will open up the space creating a modern container terminal.

The goal of last year’s international fair was the promotion of the Mariel Port, to which now Cuba has received the investment and funding for. Cuban Minister of Foreign Investment and Commerce invited all interested foreign investors affirming that opportunities of exchange would be “fruitful and useful” for both parties. The minister urged that the opportunities offered in Cuba are some of the largest in its region of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), already having strongly established corporate representation from Venezuela, China, Russia and Spain, which are the main trading partners of the island.

“Cuba, where the Past and the Present Converge”

According to Euronews, 90% of Cuba’s debt to Moscow will be taken care of, about $29.53 billion and the remaining 10% ($3.29 billion), to be paid over the next 10 years. The remaining 10% also predicted to be invested directly back into sectors of the Cuban economy.

Russia plans specifically to invest in the development of Cuba’s Mariel Port, which is conveniently located 30 miles from Havana on the northwestern coast, situated in the Gulf Shore facing the United States.

According to NPR, in the 1980’s, ” it was the exit point for 125,000 Cubans who were desperately fleeing to Florida, some of them with assistance from the U.S. government. The Soviet Union was collapsing, and its aid to Cuba was withering. That, coupled with decades of U.S. embargo, was causing the island’s economy to nosedive.”

Now Mariel is a much quieter city, however that could soon change with the re-development of the port. The Mariel Port would be able to lodge some of the world’s largest cargo ships, with the help of Russian investment.

Russian Minister of Defense, Sergei Shoygu stated, ” that Russia would establish permanent bases in Cuba, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Singapore, and the Seychelle islands off Africa. The Russian navy also plans to visit other friendly countries, and Moscow is negotiating to open refueling stations for its strategic bombers.”

With Russia offering to cut off previous Cuban debt, there will be a much stronger resurgence of Russian influence within Cuba, just like in the olden days.

Flashback, Lavrov buttering up Latin American partners

Russian's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, second from right, listens to Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, second from left in a meeting in Havana to discuss bilateral relations this past April.
Russian’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, second from right, listens to Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, second from left in a meeting in Havana to discuss bilateral relations this past April.

In the midst of the Crimea Crisis back in April 2014, stopping and negotiating in Kiev was not on the itinerary for Russian Chancellor Sergei Lavrov. He did not rush to the scene where the United Nations was putting great pressure on the evacuation of Russian forces and hoping to create a Security Resolution, no, Lavrov’s eyes were set on Cuba, Nicaragua, Peru, and Chile.

The question is, why was Russia’s head chancellor venturing to Latin America while the biggest crisis between Russia and the Western since the Cold War, had erupted? Although Obama is constantly scolded by Putin for referring to Russia as a “regional power,” Russia has been very active in trying to change that.

The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs noted that Lavrov made the tour to, “delve into issues of bilateral cooperation” and “review [previously] approved agreements.”

At the same time, Lavrov specifically thanked Cuban and Nicaraguan presidents for their vote against U.N. condemnation of Russian actions in Crimea back in April.

Larvov happily met with Raul Castro and continued on to Nicaragua, Peru and finished up in Santiago, Chile.

Later, as known, Putin returned in July for another tour of various Latin American Nations.