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Posted June 19, 2007 by publisher in Cuba-World Trade

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I would like to propose this question to the Havana Journal readers. First of all, let’s leave out any opinions about how Fidel and/or Raul squandered their opportunity to make Cuba a great economic powerhouse.

Let’s discuss the potential in a democratically controlled Cuba with an open capitalist system. We can make comments about how Cuba will be ruined by capitalism but the primary comments I would like to see are regarding the question “Can Cuba be an economic powerhouse in a post-Castro era?

I’ll start off by saying YES and I will try to make my point that I think Cuba could be the most powerful economic force in the Caribbean, central AND south America.

Cuba has many natural resources including copper, nickel, oil, cobalt and chromium. If oil reserves are found to be plentiful, Cuba can not only sustain herself with that oil but may be able to export oil along with other commodities thus adding to her potential economic status in the region.

Cuba has a very high literacy rate and many skilled doctors, engineers and other skilled labor. It is my understanding that the Cuban people are very hard working, resourceful and loyal. When this labor force is able to work in a free market economy in Cuba, the laborers would be well paid for their work. Also, if Cubans offer services to an international market (call centers, web design, coding, etc) they would compete for international service jobs and thus adding to her potential economic status in the region.

Cuba has thousands of acres of farmland for growing tobacco, citrus, sugar, coffee and raising livestock. Imagine if Cuba grows sugar for ethanol and ramps up growing of citrus. The cattle industry could be huge too. All these commodities can be exported as well thus adding to her potential economic status in the region.

Cuba’s central location between the US, Mexico, central America, south America, Jamaica, Bahamas, Hispaniola etc makes is a central shipping location and the ports of Mariel, Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Nipe and others can be developed to accommodate international trade thus adding to her potential economic status in the region.

Cuba is a very beautiful country with a rich history, beaches, unspoiled land and waters so the potential for tourism is so many more times greater than what it is today. When Cuba can handle the tourists, I think it will draw visitors away from the Bahamas, Cancun and even Florida thus adding to her potential economic status in the region.

Cuba may have a “fresh start” after the Castro brothers and may want to emulate the favorable business environment like that of the Cayman Islands. Imagine if large corporations set up businesses in Cuba bringing in millions of dollars in foreign money thus adding to her potential economic status in the region.

Cuba has the potential to be completely self sufficient on solar power and wind energy. If this technology is developed, Cuba could be a model for the world and maybe even an exporter of electricity thus adding to her potential economic status in the region.

Cuba can tax tourism, real estate sales, exports, imports, services etc that can be invested for the greater good of the people and I think all this can be achieved without exploiting the Cuban people or raping the land and resources.

In one way or another, Cuba has been exploited and/or oppressed for all of the 1900s. Can the Cuba of the 2000s evolve to be a vibrant economic powerhouse that’s bigger than Mexico, central America, south America, the Bahamas, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and Jamaica combined?

  1. Follow up post #1 added on June 20, 2007 by edward with 65 total posts

    Hi

    I received this in my in box…

    “Guys, you act like hyaenas… can’t believe my eyes… and you believe you
    are human beings????????

    Who knows when you die… do you? Can you bet your hat it cannot happen
    before Fidel’s exit?

    I can see that Bush is invader of the world..intimidating countries around
    the world..when he forces China and Rusia in a military defense pact, WWW
    III is going to be inside our doors. This leader is taking directions out
    of Adolph’s book.. trying to be the world rules in his World Order..
    500,000 killed in Iraq.. a lot of innocent children….

    Most of Europian people hate this nut and do not trust him with a ten foot
    pole..

    My question is: Do you wish him death?

    I do not. I wish american people kick him out themselves…”


    I do not wish death on Mr Bush or Mr Castro and you are right to say that this forum is beginning to sound like a bunch of hyeanas…it’s at the very least undignified.

    In relation to the Publishers sticky, you beat me to the punch…

    I’m no politician, lawyer, economist, journalist etc. I’m from a stand - point of wanting the best for Cuba, it’s people and it’s future. I know that the American administration has a habit of shooting itself and it’s own people in the foot so to speak. Mr Castro doesn’t have to waste too much time in stoking bad PR against the United States administration, they do a good enough job of that themselves.

    It appears that Cuba is fast approaching another cross road in it’s colourful history, the country has a wealth and variety of natural resources that could be the envy of many countries in the developed word. It is my belief that by far the greatest resource is it’s people.

    Mr Castro took over the reigns by force from the jackals running the country pre-revolution and has tried to steer Cuba along what initially appeared to be a noble path. Whichever way one looks at it his ideas have been thwarted by a combination of factors, some of which were self - inflicted. In my view Cuba will become an economic powerhouse for all of the reasons you mentioned above. The Cubans are on the cusp of the greatest of opportunities and it will be tragic if they are denied the right of self – determination. Not only could they become the powerhouse that you mention but they could also set an example to rest of us as to the formulation a true social democracy promoting fairness, altruism, freedom and peace.

    Viva Cuba


  2. Follow up post #2 added on June 20, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    edward,

    That email is the content of another post by Vlasta, a person here solely to disrupt conversation and I have warned him twice. He is the same guy who was banned once before but I try to give people room yet he calls me a dictator.

    With regards to your comment… Viva Cuba indeed!

    I would like to mention that Cuba may be able to recover from years of stagnation and oppression by Fidel but it will most likely need foreign investment and that will probably come from the US and foreign governments and US and foreign investors.

    I do not believe and do not wish that the US or any foreign governments get involved with Cuban government issues and I certainly would demand sovereignty for Cuba, something that will be respected regardless of Fidel Castro’s rants.



    Cuba consulting services

  3. Follow up post #3 added on June 20, 2007 by Edward

    Hi

    That explains the rant from our friend vlasta (are we sure it’s not Raul!?)...

    I for one would one would be queuing to invest in the new Cuba, from a foreign investment point of view it it must be an attractive and an exciting prospect, not least for the Cuban people who deserve better than the fare they have been served to date.

    I agree with you that Cuba needs self determination and to be totally independent and free from meddling interference from outside. Yes to positive investment and expertise, no to interference.

    Mr Castro could start the ball rolling by releasing all NON VIOLENT political prisoners held in Cuba.

    Ed


  4. Follow up post #4 added on June 20, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    That would be a good start but I don’t see any changes in Cuba until Fidel is dead, Bush is out of the white house and/or the Embargo is lifted.

    Fidel will continue to rant on and even try to provoke the US rather than open up to the US so hang on. It might be a wild ride but I do think we are in the end game but, that has been said many times before.



    Cuba consulting services

  5. Follow up post #5 added on June 22, 2007 by Anatasio with 36 total posts

    Absolutely! If anything, 48 years of the regime have taught us that Cubans are some of the most enterprising folks anywhere in the world. We have survived and persevered for nearly five decades amid squalor and poverty imposed by the state. This is a direct result of the people’s will to work together in the face of adversity and I truly believe it will pay off in spades post-Fidel.

    Furthermore, we mustn’t forget the community of exiles who long to return to pick up where they left off some five decades earlier. No doubt the original exiles of 1959 through say 1965 are too old to re-start businesses seized by the regime however, their college-educated sons and daughters are ready to pick up the reigns along with their on-island borthers in a bid to jump-start a once-powerful industrial complex.

    Going further, those individuals coming home to Cuba with an aim at re-starting old family businesses can provide much needed funds for the cash-strapped economy - through the form of income taxes and corporate tariffs. Imagine the amount of good-paying jobs that will be created on an island with as many natural resources as Cuba: Cobalt, Nickel, Iron, Cadmium, tourism, construction, shipbuilding, shipping, seafood exports, sugar exports, beef exports - shall I go on?

    We’ll be OK folks, you can count on it! Go Cuba, go!

    Best,

    Anatasio


  6. Follow up post #6 added on June 22, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Anatasio,

    I agree with you on most of your comment but I’m not sure the Cuban exiles will be welcomed with open arms in a new Cuba.

    Didn’t Fidel preach that they are the enemy?



    Cuba consulting services

  7. Follow up post #7 added on June 24, 2007 by Anatasio Blanco

    Hi publisher,

    I think that your fears are very common among those who don’t regularly travel to Cuba. One of the things I’m always surpised at, is the fact that Cubans still on the island - despite the propaganda they’ve been fed for decades - don’t necessarily hold that sort of “rancor” that Fidel would hope, toward their exiled brothers. I’ve met many who view the possibiliyt of the exiles returning in a positive manner. The idea being - these folks, and their offspring, have benefited from operating businesses in the outside world - their knowledge will be of great use to a more open Cuba.

    As exiles - we of course want to return - but this needs to be done in a manner that will benefit the Cuban people (those who’ve stayed behind) greatly. I truly believe this can be done. Meaning: I truly believe we can right the wrongs of stolen property, whil at the same time benefiting the nation as a whole - like I said: corpoate tarrifs, income taxes, etc, etc . . . we can do great thing for our brothers, we just need to be willing to sacrifice and build. All is possible. And I for one, plan on doing everyting I can to assist those folks who stayed behind amid the hell, the oppression, the indignity. These are my countrymen. I love them dearly.

    Best,

    Anatsio


  8. Follow up post #8 added on June 24, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Anatasio,

    Thanks for sharing that insight. You sound like a moderate but I also get the sense that it will be you and the Cuban citizens and screw everyone else.

    Kind of like “Hey we’re all Cubans now and everyone else needs to stay out of Cuba.

    Obviously I follow Cuba closely and have many contacts in and out of Cuba but I believe that the Cubans in Miami will be seen as “foreigners” when the Embargo is lifted and ALL Americans can go to Cuba.

    The Cuban American exiles are going to be demanding special rights because of their heritage, history, family, whatever and I will be told by Cuban Americans that since I don’t have any of the above, that I am not welcome in Cuba.

    Kind of like “we struggled more than you” kind of attitude.

    Do you see that happening?

    In other words, will Wall Street and venture capitalists have a place in a post-Embargo Cuba or will only Cuban American money be allowed in to rebuild Cuba?



    Cuba consulting services

  9. Follow up post #9 added on June 25, 2007 by Anatasio with 36 total posts

    Hi Publisher,

    I look ahead at a Cuba where investment dollars - both domestic and foreign - will be used to rebuild and bolster that ravaged economy. The Castro regime has for decades, created a fictitious history of any Cuban exile as automatically being a corrupt Batistiano - individuals who built businesses in illegal ways. While this sort of thing happens in any open economy, the vast majority of those exiles who were forced out of Cuba after having businesses seized, had built those businesses over the course of decades and assisted in creating the backbone of one of the most successful economies in Latin American history.

    No doubt, some folks in Cuba will look on their exiled brothers with suspicious eyes. This is understandable. 48 years of nonsensical propaganda and a non-existent free press have seen to that. Our responsibility as exiles will be the creation - 100% WITH our on-island family members - of a vibrant, successful economy that not only provides dividends for business owners, but pays into national coffers, thus paving the way for the reconstruction of infrastructure and the creation of a more equitable, quality health care system. I truly believe we can do it. And when I see “we” I mean ALL Cubans. I, and I sense most of my fellow exiles, have never felt “not Cuba” or any less Cuban than my family members on the island. We’re all in the same struggle.

    Great exchange, Publisher - thanks for your opinions and questions. Its time to become as open as possible about the Cuba question - so as not to play right into the regime’s propaganda-stained hands.

    Regards,

    -Anatasio Blanco


  10. Follow up post #10 added on June 25, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    You either forgot to answer or avoided my question. Or, you have answered my question and do plan to exclude me, venture capitalists and any other investors without genetic ties to Cuba.

    Maybe I am reading too much into this but I get a sense of arrogance from the Cuban exile community that you will arrive in a post-Castro post Embargo Cuba and declare “We are here to help you now get out of our way”.

    You want the help of the Cubans in Cuba so long as they allow you to come in and build what you want to build where you want to build it.

    And, to any US or foreign investors “What right do you have to be here?”

    I can see it just by the way you write.



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  11. Follow up post #11 added on June 25, 2007 by Anatasio with 36 total posts

    Publisher,

    I include you when I say “I look ahead at a Cuba where investment dollars - both domestic and foreign - will be used to rebuild and bolster that ravaged economy.”

    I’m not quite sure where the anger in your tone is coming from? I don’t believe in exluding anyone from anything. Rebuilding Cuba is going to require a joint effort by anyone willing to lend a hand - be it in investment dollars or otherwise. Our island needs all the help she can get - all the help and investment anyone is willing to offer.

    I really don’t know where you get the idea that:

    “Maybe I am reading too much into this but I get a sense of arrogance from the Cuban exile community that you will arrive in a post-Castro post Embargo Cuba and declare “We are here to help you now get out of our way”.”

    Correct me if I am wrong - but your tone when you say:

    “You want the help of the Cubans in Cuba so long as they allow you to come in and build what you want to build where you want to build it.”

    It strikes me as the same sort of silly rhetoric that comes out of government ministries in Havana. I fear you’re attempting to trumpet the notion that folks should just be able to storm the gates of Havana and dictate what will be done. I need to disagree with you on this. The folks who will and should be making the major decisions on how to go forward are Cubans - with the help of all interested parties. Cubans who have been trapped amid the dictatorship for 48 years, secondarily, those who want to go home.


  12. Follow up post #12 added on June 25, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Okay, your point is well made.

    I do not form my opinion from Cuban propoganda, I form my opinion from knowing the likes of CANF, Frank Calzon, the Diaz-Balarts and Illena Ros-Lehtinen.

    They have oppressed the American people for years with their elitist attitudes and support of the Embargo, the support of funding of the useless Radio Marti and the giving of gifts to thereby tainting dissidents with good intentions in Cuba.

    I’m glad you have a more open mind than those elected officials and leaders of those organizations who represent the exile community.



    Cuba consulting services

  13. Follow up post #13 added on June 25, 2007 by Edward...

    Hi

    From someone speaking as a genetic outsider so to speak, (my mother - in - law lives in Havana), I’m learning much about Cuba and the dynamics of the political situation as I can.

    For example, one doesn’t have to dig far to get an idea of all the players…Just by tapping the name..“Lincoln Diaz Balart” into Wykipedia, you wouldn’t want that grease ball running anything. People like him give Cuban exiles a bad name, the impression I have from various sources is that he has supported terrorism. He’s also a congressman.

    Anatosio, I assume you live in Florida, I am interested to know if you think there would be a surge of exiles clamouring to get back into Cuba if and when the economy opens up?. Also, what about all the property that was left by the cubans who voluntarily left the island?, would they be seeking ownership of their property at the expense of cubans who now live there?

    Ed


  14. Follow up post #14 added on June 25, 2007 by Anatasio with 36 total posts

    Edward,

    You pose a very good questions.

    “I am interested to know if you think there would be a surge of exiles clamouring to get back into Cuba if and when the economy opens up?”

    Undoubtedly. Folks living in exile still dream of returning to a beloved homeland. This is a group of individuals whose love for their homeland runs deep. I dare say I’ve rarely ever experienced such deep sentiments before in any other culture I’ve come in contact with.

    “Also, what about all the property that was left by the cubans who voluntarily left the island?, would they be seeking ownership of their property at the expense of cubans who now live there?”

    Many families who had businesses etc. illegally seized by the regime do expect to head back and re-start those businesses. This could offer a great windfall for the island - if it’s done right - meaning: high corporate tarrifs and income taxes that can go directly into government coffers, for use in building up the worn economy for all.

    As for “seeking ownership of their property at the expense of cubans who now live there?”: ask most people who had homes stolen in the early years and most will tell you the same thing: they have no intention of sparking an epidemic of homelessness for those individuals they long to be reunited with. Sure, some sort of compensation issue will have to be addressed, but NOT by way of kicking people out of homes that were “gifted” to them by the de-facto government.  That’s a quick route to alienation and simply wrong.

    Cheers,

    -Anatasio

    PS: No, I am not from south Florida - I’m not even from the United States. LOL


  15. Follow up post #15 added on June 25, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Again Anatasio, the way you write freaks me out a bit. I continue to get the sense the the intentions of the Cuban exile community will all be for the common good yet you say they will return to re-start the businesses and “some sort of compensation” and you say “they have no intention of sparking an epidemic of homelessness” and that makes the assumption that they could if they wanted to.

    See how I read it? It’s like “Don’t worry about us Cuban exiles, we just want to come and help, so long as our lawyers are happy and we get preferential treatment.”

    I’m not saying all this to beat you up. You seem like a moderate (and I assume) exile but there is that tone of entitlement.

    I did not have my land and business stolen so I cannot directly relate but if the old Cuban exiles think they will just fly back to Cuba and pick up where they left off AND get compensation, they are seriously mistaken.

    I think anyone who returns to Cuba demanding fairness or feeling entitled or insisting on preferential treatment are only going to be disappointed.

    Furthermore, I think these same people will be the cause of problems in a new Cuba, not the solution.



    Cuba consulting services

  16. Follow up post #16 added on July 08, 2007 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    if american companies follow the way canadian and european companies work with cuban companies (albeit govt owned), it could work out (but as ome canadian and european companies found out - not necessaily perfectly).

    but i fear the problem will come from two directions.
    1 - American companies will want return of assets seized by the communists and
    2. An American vision of what Cuba should look like.  In another forum someone took a picture of downtown Havana and superimposed a KFC, MacDonalds, Burger King etc all over the place.

    I watched how quickly East Germany (and other East European countries) changed - in my opinion not a model to follow.


  17. Follow up post #17 added on July 12, 2007 by anders

    There are so many things said on the topic already by I still would like to comment on a few fundamentals.

    Cuba is not particularly rich on natural resources. Except for agricultural lands there´s really nothing in abundance. Not even fishing. The waters are too warm and they have practically no traditions in fishing.
    Many countries have singel mines that produce more than the combined cuban mining output. Forestry isn´t either anything that could be drastically more exploited. There arn´t that many forests and they are mostly growing on steep slopes. To develop this they would have to go the ecological way not to ruin everything and very few nations have that expertise to assist them with.

    The main asset of Cuba is undoutably its people. They are the best educated population in all of the Americas, according to Unesco. And they have high academic standards already in biochemestry, math, IT-tech and some others , I´ve learned. Today the low salaries would be one of Cubas foremost advantages.

    Cuba is already open to foreign investment. This is one of the reasons why european, Latin American and Asian business people visit there. The obstacles are shortage of cuban resources - many materials would have to be imported forever - and the US blockade that incriminates both individuals and companies with trade relations with Cuba.
    The temptations are the geographical position, favourable agreements with the government ( on imports, taxation asf ), high basic educational standards and of course low cost of labor.
    Today I would estimate foreign investments to generate about half of the surplus values of the Cuban GNP.

    There´s absolutaly no stagnation in Cuban economic developments. On the contrary, Cuba is together with Brazil the American nations with the highest growth rates. Since -94 Cuban GNP has grown 7-10% every year. This creates attention in the international world of trading.

    Some of the previous comments are simply not founded in realities. The exil community could self evidentily contribute more in the future. Already money and materials sent to build and furnish Casas Paladares and Casas Particulares have been very important. Anybody can see that. But the exiles would not be in a position where they could offer the opening of heavens door to the masses.


  18. Follow up post #18 added on July 12, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Anders, thanks for your comments but I think your view is a little off.

    Cuba has 35% of the world’s nickel resources and nickel is needed to make steel. Cuba was the world’s largest sugar producer and may someday make ethanol. There is some hope of oil being found. Then of course there is the best tobacco in the world. Sounds like decent resources to me.

    But, of course the people are the best resource and I hope they are well rewarded for their struggle.

    As far as the Cuban economy, I think you are reading the Granma too much. Cuba does not adhere to world accounting practices so whatever the government wants to say is what the economy is. It’s all fluffed up with credits, loans, discounted oil from Venezuela, etc.



    Cuba consulting services

  19. Follow up post #19 added on July 12, 2007 by anders

    dear publisher,
    nagging with you have made the last rainy days a little easier. We´re suffering from climate changes in Scandinavia and there are flooding everywhere. Sob !

    You`re right of course on the nickel resources but other than that….. ?  And the metal works around Moa (where the nickel mines are ) are so pollutant that the day the cubans ask the canadians to clean up… The layers of airborn sediments are at least an inch covering the top soils for at least a mile around the works.

    The sugar production is as much a meanace as an asset. World prices are very low and way to much land and labor on Cuba are tied to sugar plantation. For several years sugar has been drawing energy and income from cuban economy. The many times rather crude cuban tourist workers are often peasants that have been laid off.

    The problems of The Special Period can partly be explained by the unproportional share of sugar industry in the economy. Nowadays there is noone to buy it. This is according to how cuban economists describe it. They need the land for food, cattle asf. I´ve heard ethanol production has been discussed but it seems the infrastructure requirements are scaring them off.

    Yes, I believe oil has already been found west of Cuba. Hopefully they can exploit it within 10 years. Tobacco quality is great but will also become a source of problems in the near future. Most of it will have to go and you cannot feed a country on cigars.

    I´d rather say I´m not reading Granma enough. It does happen but mostly when I´m looking for confirmation or comments on various issues. I´m not partial to its literary qualities. UN reports and traditional academic essays, books and papers dominate my reading completely.

    Cuban statistic methods vary somewhat from other National Accounts but not to the degree they are unintelligable. And the various sources are not congruante. Depending on who you are and the purpose they might assist you through the difficulties. This means both total missunderstandings of cuban economy and insightful analyses mostly have some cuban background.
    My impression is that Cuban accounts are among the least fluffed up you could find because its construction is such there are few places to hide things. Because exchange values or credits requires a market and revenues are strictly controlled. Claiming non existant revenues requires boosted figures of production and twarted statistics on trade. The various UN authorities have found nothing of the sort.


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