Good day everyone. Some interesting comments on this issue. I would urge realism,patience and taking the “long view” on business in Cuba. I am an independent consultant/facilitator in the area of education/culture/tourism financing and advice. Fot the last 10 years i have divided my time between London/UK,Ireland and Havana.
I have organised many trips for interested people in those areas. For business it is essential that you have a close relationship with the cuban economic counsellor in the cuban embassy in your own home country. These are the people,along with people like me,who can put you in touch with the correct people in Cuba who can cut through bureaucracy and minimise corruption. This local knowledge is essential to prevent yourself wasting your time. You need a track record of trust ,with cubans and your local cuban embassy ,to support you,i.e business visas,arranged programmes etc.
You need to invest in yourself by paying for your own trips to meet key cubans over a period of time. One visit of 7 days once a year will achieve nothing. Over time i have facilitated investment and donations to Cuba and built up a track record of delivery and promises kept. Now i have a multiple visa,residence ID in Havana,official work ID and authority to purchase and run my own new car. (Purchased last year). All renewable annually.
At present do not even think about purchasing property. It is illegal for cubans and foreigners. Cubans can swop property but not buy and sell. Yes there is an illegal maket for cubans but if you are caught the penalties are severe and you have no legal claim to the property and it is confiscated by the state. Many foreigners have been scammed by so called “sales”. Several years ago Fidel allowed a limited scheme to sell some apartments to foreigners at the “Hemingway Marina” but he later cancelled this legal scheme and gave the money back. You can do long term rents,which is what i do,and there are excellent properties especially in Miramar and Playa in Havana. I cannot comment on outside of Havana as i do not know the other provinces well. However,i can advise you on all things in Havana as i know it as well as other cities like london.
I will be back in Havana for about 6 weeks in mid october. Anyone wishing to ask for advice or meet up then please drop me your e-mail address or cell phone number and i will get in touch. There is a good cell phone network in Havana (cubacell) and good e-mail access in some of the hotels and business centres.
As in all business it is good contacts and trust that are/will be key for the future in Cuba.