Cuba's Economic Potential attracts Entrepreneurs from Europe, and China

The market-oriented reforms in Cuba and its improved ties with the United States have made the Caribbean country an attractive destination for business delegations from Europe and China in the past few weeks.

Spain's minister for industry, energy and tourism Jose Manuel Soria, and Italian vice minister for economic development Carlo Calenda visited Cuba this week with business groups, following delegations from France, the Uk and the Netherlands. A delegation from China's Shenzhen city visited the island from June 30 to July 1.

Soria, who was here to boost his country's trade and investment in Cuba in various sectors, said that the economic reforms launched by Cuban president Raul Castro is "marking the correct path."

Raul Castro introduced measures to reform the national economy soon after taking office in 2008, in a bid to build Cuba into a "prosperous and sustainable socialist nation."

Cuba's Council of Ministers agreed to "extend the experiment to private sectors" at a meeting in June.

The aim of the Spanish minister's visit, together with 75 business representatives, was to support Spanish companies interested in establishing themselves in Cuba.

"A new era full of opportunities is beginning in Cuba and Spanish companies can contribute their accumulated experiences in various fields such as industry, tourism, energy, telecommunications and infrastructure," said Soria.

In June, the Spanish Company of Financing and Development (COFIDES) decided to provide Spanish companies with €40 million (US$44 million) before 2017 for them to invest in Cuba and more fund will be available in the future, said Jaime Garcia Legaz, Spain's Secretary of State for Trade, who came together with Soria.

Spain is Cuba's third largest trading partner after Venezuela and China and has around 200 enterprises mainly in the island's tourism sector.

Italy, also aspiring to explore business potential in Cuba, sent a delegation of 150 businessmen to Cuba earlier this week, led by the country's Vice Economic Minister Carlo Calenda.

It is the largest group of Italian entrepreneurs to have ever visited Cuba, Cuban news agency Prensa Latina (PL) cited Calenda as saying.

Like Europe, China also holds an optimistic view as to the potential of the Cuban economy.

For China, Cuba is not only a market full of opportunities, but also essential to a greater Latin American market given Cuban's geographical location, said Chinese Ambassador to Cuba Zhang Tuo.

A Shenzhen delegation led by Mayor Xu Qin visited Havana earlier this month to further strengthen cooperation in several key fields, including investment, biotechnology, public transportation and infrastructure.

During the visit, Shenzhen-based battery maker and electric vehicle producer BYD won its biggest order since it entered the Cuban market last year: 719 gasoline-powered cars.

The delegation also met with Carlos Manuel Gutierrez Calzado, president of BioCubaFarma, the biggest biotechnology and pharmaceutical group in Cuba, to discuss the details of further cooperation.

Preceding the Shenzhen delegation, Chinese vice premier Wang Yang visited the island late June, when he called for strengthened planning in cooperation between the two countries on infrastructure, bio-tech, agriculture and renewable energy, as well as efforts to explore industrial and investment cooperation potentials.

  • Published in Now

A Route for Alicia Alonso

The special route “Alicia Alonso, órbita de una leyenda”, dedicated to the 95th birth anniversary of the famous Cuban dancer, will start on July 9 at 2pm at Centro Hispanoamericano de Cultura attached to the City Historian's Office.

  • Published in Culture

Sam Nujoma meets the Cuban Five

Sam Nujoma, who was the first president of Namibia, held a private meeting with the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters, who are visiting that African nation.

Nujoma welcomed Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González a smile and dressed in dark clothes at the Etunda farm in the north of the country.

The first question Nujoma asked the Five was "How is Fidel feeling? as he considers the Cuban leader a true friend, PL news agency reported.

During the 30-minute encounter, Gerardo Hernandez expressed, on behalf of his countrymen, that it was an immense honor to meet a personality like Nujoma, whose heroic actions for the liberation of Namibia are well known by the Cuban people.

Nujoma recalled how world solidarity favored the release of the five and noted "I am very happy that you are here today."

The meeting was also joined by current Namibian president Hage Geingob, who described the Five as revolutionary icons.

  • Published in Cuba

Maine and Quebec activists again protest U.S. anti-Cuban blockade

COATICOOK, Quebec - The U.S. and Cuban governments on July 1 restored diplomatic relations cut off half a century ago, but U. S. measures humiliating and messing with the sovereign Cuban people are still in force. They are aimed at ending Cuba's social revolution.

What the two nations have done so far, according to a Cuban government statement on the same day, is only "the first stage of what will be a long and complex process. ...  [L]ifting of the blockade, among other aspects, will be indispensable for the normalization of relations." Cuba called upon the United States to do more. For one thing, it must end "programs aimed at promoting internal subversion and destabilization."

Unfinished business indeedwas on the minds of Canadian and U.S. Cuba solidarity activists on June 27 as they came together in Coaticook, Quebec, a few miles north of the U.S. border station at Norton, Vermont. For the 16th year they were engaging in action against the U.S. anti-Cuban economic blockade. Once more they were working together with the 2015 Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba.

That same day, on the other side of the continent, Vancouver defenders of Cuban independence were delivering humanitarian aid material to activists in Washington State.  They too were part of the Pastors for Peace network.

Members of the Quebec-Cuba Friendship Caravan, based in Montreal, had brought humanitarian donations from Montreal to the border, mostly medical supplies. They delivered the aid material to counterparts from Maine. They were there on behalf of that state's Let Cuba Live organization, which has been part of every Pastors for Peace Friendshipment caravan since 1992, when the caravans began.

Inspired by the Rev. Lucius Walker, the late Pastors for Peace founder and leader, the solidarity activists were purposefully defying U.S.  blockade regulations, in particular the requirement that humanitarian donations be authorized beforehand. Walker spoke of a "people's foreign policy."

Pastors for Peace buses and trucks will soon be traveling across the United States to McAllen, Texas. On the way, donated goods will go on board and there will be solidarity meetings. A handful of veteran drivers will take the material from McAllen to Tampico, Mexico, for shipment later on to Cuba.

At a solidarity gathering in sight of the U.S. border station, Francesco Di Feo of the Quebec group lauded the Maine contingent for persisting in a struggle that will last as long, he promised, as does the blockade and until the United States no longer is interfering in Cuban affairs. In response, Maria Sanchez from Portland, Maine - and originally from Lima, Peru - spoke of Cuba's leadership role in promoting social justice and Latin American unity.   

Together, solidarity activists of both groups presented the Quebecers' aid material to U.S. border officials. The latter were aware the boxes were going to Cuba, but nevertheless authorized their entry into the United States. "See you next year," the officers called out to the departing Let Cuba Live contingent. In earlier attempts to send aid material to Cuba, the officials had blocked and even confiscated it.

Let Cuba Live held a well-attended solidarity and fund-raising event at the Southern Maine Workers Center in Portland on June 28. While those in attendance enjoyed a meal prepared by Maria Sanchez and others, organizers presented the film "Maestra," Catherine Murphy's depiction of Cuba's 1961 literacy campaign.

One speaker at the meeting discussed prospects for normalization of relations between the two countries. He reminded listeners that the blockade policy is based on the U. S. scheme, enunciated in 1960, of making the Cuban people suffer and thereby induce them to overthrow Cuba's revolutionary government. There was consensus among the group that normal relations between the two countries were impossible as long the blockade remained. Calls were heard for repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1965 and for return to Cuba of property in Guantanamo where the famous U. S. naval base and prison are located.

Let Cuba Live members recalled Rev. Walker's visit to Monument Square in Portland in 2001. The Pastors for Peace leader on that occasion told several hundred aroused Mainers that in order to bring down the blockade they must overcome obstacles and confront "the powers." Two weeks later Walker was at Maine's border with Quebec in support of an attempt then to send supplies to Cuba over the objections of border officials. That day the officials were enforcing U.S. rules.

This June 30, two Let Cuba Live members transported aid material from Quebec and Maine to a Pastors for Peace bus waiting in Schenectady, N.Y. The Maine contribution included construction materials and tools, medical and school supplies, and sports equipment.

  • Published in Cuba
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