http://havanajournal.com/business/entry/the-key-to-cuban-commerce-land-ownership-and-real-estate-law-in-cuba-443/

HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Business

The key to Cuban commerce - land ownership and real estate law in Cuba

Posted August 25, 2010 by publisher in Cuba Business.
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Dan Skinner | CubaDomainsForSale.com

For me, as one who has developed a love for the Cuban people and countryside since the 1950s, and who appreciates their plight, I have some personal concerns about the realistic future of Cuban business. At the root of all commercial growth is a clearly defined and merchantable system of title to land. In a new Cuba, this problem, without a perfected, easily defined, internationally accepted, long term and secure solution is at the core of the success/failure equation.

Successful resolution of this one constriction directly affects the speed with which all value in the re-emerging Cuban business culture will be established. I personally have done a great deal of research on the subject. Frankly, this situation, as it exists in Cuba, is a mess that promises to be even worse than it was in the emerging Eastern Europe after Soviet release, until a realistic solution is codified.

As I see it, all final controlling decisions will be political. The Cuban people, as a culture, are among the most politically astute in the world. My trust, confidence and considerable investment is in those strengths. However, competing interests, military, bureaucratic, law enforcement and farming, have pent-up requirements, hopes and dreams, all of which must be fed and satisfied, simultaneously.

From my experience, quality, long-term development does not survive where the developer and their agents must walk around with American $100 bills for ready distribution and a security cadre at their elbow. As examples we have the emerging Soviet satellites, early false starts in China and the horrors of the 70s in Iran.

Land title, and therefore a following financing of the planned project, is anchored in confidence and stability. And one more thing….. the only reason that developers develop, is because they can borrow the money to do so! Planning and getting ready is one thing, breaking ground to successful completion is quite another. At the present time, according to my client base, best positioned are the oil-rich Middle East and the Dutch. Both are patient and experienced traders and utilizers of real estate resources and both are very active on Cuba.

One very recent example of the situation on the ground in Cuba, as it is today, is the Cuban government having given 2.5 million acres of prime land to farmers, corporate farmers and other interests. Cubans can apply for approximately 33 acres. ‘Established farmers’ are able to increase their current holdings to 100 acres. Under this new and binding ruling, private citizens will qualify for ten year leases, renewable for an additional ten years. 25 year leases, with renewals, are available to cooperatives and larger companies. These types of policies further muddy the land title waters.

Along with the land title dilemma, Cuba must invest heavily in its infrastructure in order to accommodate significant growth. There are no public sewers of sufficient capacity or quality. There is no public water supply with sufficient capacity to handle the added guests, vendors, and worker load, much less irrigation, etc. There is no interconnection of utilities, with a common, definable standard, known to be on the drawing board. Unless these urgent needs are addressed now, which is politically not likely at this time, it will be many years until visitors and guests will be able to go to Cuba for reasons other than to simply take a look around. Further, every road, even the ones that look good, are, pardon the stark term, crap. Even the interconnecting Russian-built military roads of the 60s are seriously deteriorating beyond acceptable use. Mostly ‘show roads,’ which terminate at a goat path destination, exist at this time. Someone must pay!

Regarding the potentially lucrative cruise industry, with the possibility of a favorable change in the US/Cuban rules, there is optimism. However, in our opinion, this will not happen in the short term and a loosening change would benefit other industries more quickly than the cruise industry. The cruise industry will continue to do well, whether or not direct Cuban access is granted because of other strengths in that sector of industry. They are poised to take financial advantage of ‘day trip’ visits to Cuba.
On another front, the reality of the renewal of the historic casino business on Cuba is now, finally, to be realized. This is a separate consideration, along with the future of tourism in Florida and up and down the East coast of the United States.
On a further personal note, there are other interests that I must personally service. I can only wish that CubaDomainsForSale.com were the only call on my productive business time. I have come too many miles down the business road to allow the soft spot in my heart for these beautiful people to guide the softer spots in my head!

I wish all the best to Cuba, its people and to you and all that you hold dear. 

Dan Skinner

About the Author….. As a boy in the 50s and 60s, I visited my Uncle, a consultant to the US Navy, during school vacation, on Cuba. He loved the Cuban people, with whom we lived during those times, and I came to share that love and appreciation for the qualities of the culture. I am retired from the day to day business of suit wearing since the late 80s. I have served in the community planning, land aggregation and project development businesses for most of my professional life, consulting and building over North and South America and the throughout the Orient, from Japan to Iran. I reside for much of the year, in Florida. I now enjoy my Grandchildren, travel, write about the Blood supply, the use of microcomputers in small business, and buying/selling/leasing internet Domain names.

Member Comments

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On August 26, 2010, publisher wrote:

Ask and you shall receive huh?

from MSNBC Cuba, with eye on golf, liberalizes land law