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Posted September 19, 2006 by publisher in Cuba-US Trade

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Miami Herald

The Cuban-American business leaders of the Cuba Study Group are putting their money where their hopes lie. The group has pledged $10 million as seed capital for a microloan program aimed at entrepreneurs inside of Cuba. That’s not all. The nonprofit group proposes other ideas for jump-starting the moribund Cuban economy—for whenever the Cuban government chooses to change direction.

Constructive approach

The ideas are compelling, as difficult as the obstacles to realizing them will be. Carlos A. Saladrigas, the group’s co-chairman, argues that the process of change involves many little steps; the more options offered to the Cuban people, the easier and faster a transition may take place. The goal is to foster an economic-development model that creates and spreads wealth.

Such a constructive approach is refreshing. Criticizing Cuba’s dictatorship for bankrupting its economy and human-rights abuses, legitimate as those issues are, doesn’t change the facts on the ground. Fundamental change should be initiated by Cubans on the island. Offering ideas and incentives helps encourage Cubans to take the needed plunge.

The Cuba Study Group has partnered with Banco Compartamos, a Mexico bank with microlending experience. Compartamos would set up the loan program in Cuba, whenever permitted by Cuban and U.S. law. True, the current Cuban regime is unlikely to embrace the project. And the U.S. embargo would likely restrict U.S. residents from investing in such a project. But at some point Cuba will change, hopefully soon and peacefully rather than later and chaotically. Meanwhile, the $10 million fund will grow and remain available until Cubans on the island can shape their own futures.

The Study Group makes other recommendations for Cuban authorities. One proposal is to issue titles to current occupants of residences and then set up a bank offering loans to homeowners using a small share of the property as collateral. Another recommendation is for a tax system that will finance investment in education and healthcare. The idea is to generate domestic capital investment that, combined with remittances and microloans, could unleash Cuba’s entrepreneurial and human potential.

Positive message

Cubans on the island know that the current communist system is a failure—but many fear change. In contrast, the Study Group’s project sends a positive message: Cubans on the island will lead Cuba’s rebuilding. Yet Cubans who have made good in exile want to contribute to the effort.

‘‘This is for the Cubans who will shape the future,’’ Mr. Saladrigas says. ``We want nothing in return but to see Cubans succeed.’‘

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  1. Follow up post #1 added on September 19, 2006 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Boo hoo. The old exiles are still pissed at Fidel yet they take MILLIONS of dollars every year in USAID. Here’s one stupid letter to the editor about the above new announcement.

    The proposal by the Cuba Study Group to make microloans to Cuban living under the Castro tyranny is not only dumb but outright treasonous.

    Any money sent to Cuba now might as well be sent directly to Fidel or Raúl Castro for that is where the money will ultimately wind up. If, on the other hand, they intend to make those loans after Cuba is free and democratic, that is another story. Can you PLEASE get over it and be an American. You’re never moving back to Cuba so give it up!

    BEGIN LETTER TO EDITOR OF MIAMI HERALD


    Their plan does not contemplate the restoration of all human rights to Cubans. If Cuba is to once more be free, then all human rights must be restored. And one of the most important is the right to private property.

    When it proposes to issue titles to current occupants of residences so that they can use those property titles as collateral for bank loans, the Cuba Study Group is trying to validate the theft of all Cuban residences undertaken by theCastro,communist takeover.

    It would be traumatic and unfair to kick out all present residential occupants. Nobody wishes that. But the fact remains that these residences were stolen from their legal owners.

    To solve this problem, stolen property must be restored to their rightful owners and then the present occupants should be given the right to negotiate a fair and just rental agreement with them. Among the first enterprises that will take off will be the repair of the present dilapidated houses and the construction of thousands of new ones.

    Once free, the Cuban people will freely—under our 1940 constitution—slowly but surely seek out where best to live.

    LEOPOLDO AGUILERA JR., Miami

    END END END

     

    Can I also add that this comment “under our 1940 constitution” should read “under THEIR 1940 constitution”.

    You are not a Cuban citizen anymore. If you want to go back to Cuba, tell your own people and President Bush to lift the 45+ year old failed Plan A Embargo.



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