Sunday, August 06, 2006

Not so fast

It's not even known whether fidel castro is alive or dead yet or whether Cuba will finally transition to a democracy that upholds human rights and already the Euro businessmen are salivating at the prospects of lifting the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba. Witness this report from the UK's Independent. Some of the choice excerpts are below.

The Spanish-French tobacco giant Altadis, which owns a controlling stake in Habanos, the marketing and exporting arm of Cuba's state-owned cigar business, is one of a bevy of major foreign companies set to reap billions if the 45-year US trade embargo is lifted...

Sol Melia, the Spanish group which is Cuba's largest hotelier with 23 hotels, could see its revenues from the country double to $100m (£52.4m) if US tourists are allowed in...
The article goes on to say that things aren't so simple:
Opening the country's economy would probably lead to an avalanche of lawsuits. When Mr Castro took power, the government systematically appropriated land, companies, properties and natural resources. Thousands of claims have been lodged against the Cuban government by private citizens and companies, many of them certified by the US authorities...

The Helms-Burton Act, passed by US Congress in 1996, allows for foreign investors to be sued in US courts for investments they have made in Cuba. This would also have to be dealt with...
If you think for one minute that those companies that have been complicit with the castro regime in enslaving and exploiting the Cuban people are going to simply be allowed to reap the benefits of those actions, then you have another thing coming.

There's going to be an accounting for everything that's happened (particularly in the last 15 years). Some of those Spanish hotels are sitting on land stolen from American interests. It's going to be a tremendo arroz con mango.


Orlando said...

Let the law suits begin.

Enrique said...

I agree

lets get rid of all spanish, canadiens

companies from cuban soil

Charlie Bravo said...

This is from my own experience in Cuba and from the experience of some of my sources, who have worked on this:
Actually, the Spaniards are not going to have a lot of trouble. They have sent an army of people to several places in the world, the States included, to track the owners of the land where their installations have been built and they have bought the deeds to that land under secrecy. So, when the times comes, they are covered, and they can sue fidel's successor.
There are other instances in which land has changed hands, I have no confirmation for this, but some Cuban families abroad have sold their ancestral land in Cuba to American ranchers. I know for a fact that well known families have managed to keep the deeds for their monumental graves at Colon Cemetery, those haven't changed hands. Some palaces in Havana have been sold to American and European personalities, according to my sources, and American real estate photographers have been seen taking several shots of dilapidated mansions in Havana, and I am not talking about photos for glossies or coffee table books.

Boli-Nica said...

Many Euro companies are not restricted by the embargo - because they might operate in certain sectors of the economy and do not technically "own" the joint ventures. Some recently were kicked out.
Watch out for the Venezuelans, Chinese and Russians, outside of the Spanish, Canadian, Germans.
There will not be an over-night transition to a market economy. Look for the Cubans to do what the Sandinistas did, a pi~ata, "privatizing" stuff to themselves, and when the economy is open enough, you have no option but to deal with the army guy who has the business.

Helms Burton has to go now, if people want to seriously recoup things, and cut deals, they have to go NOW, and start building coalitions and cutting deals with the nomenkaltura and military.

it happened in Eastern Europe, and it happened in Nicaragua.