14ymedio, Havana, 23 September 2023 — Miguel Díaz-Canel met this Friday behind closed doors, in New York, with a group of U.S. businessmen, several of them Cuban Americans, to discuss the “new business opportunities” they may have in Cuba, thanks to several economic “transformations” prepared by Havana. Although the president did not offer other details about the exchange, several officials of his delegation informed the participants that the regime values allowing Cuban-Americans to own businesses on the Island.
Several of the attendees at the meeting with Díaz-Canel, at the facilities of Cuba’s diplomatic mission at the United Nations, revealed to El Nuevo Herald that Cuban officials claim to be “contemplating and working on legislation” to facilitate the investments of Cuban Americans and to let them own micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) registered in Cuba.
Present at the meeting, lawyer Ralph Patiño explained to the newspaper that before this happens, Havana must modify numerous laws and open the necessary channels so that foreigners are authorized to directly manage the MSMEs, which are increasingly successful in the business network of the Island.
However, Patiño alleges, it is a complex situation, given the tensions between the Government of Cuba and the United States. Promises of an economic opening always come to nothing, although, he added, for the leadership of the regime “it is the only way to basically maintain their country without something drastic happening.”
Given the tensions between the Government of Cuba and the United States, promises of an economic opening always come to nothing
In addition, Díaz-Canel “was not prepared to discuss the regulations in detail,” John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, told the newspaper. He was informed about the meeting, which he did not personally attend.
Kavulich considers that it was a “lost opportunity to make progress,” since the businessmen focused on the “repetition of complaints” about the obstacles imposed by both the regime and the U.S. Government, instead of “discussing in detail how to get more out of what they actually authorize.”
If they come to fruition, the new measures will be good news for Cuban-American businessmen who negotiate with the regime, several of them present at the exchange, such as Hugo Cancio, owner of the online store Katapulk and the digital newspaper OnCuba; Carlos Saladrigas, president of the Cuba Study Group; Mike Fernández, healthcare entrepreneur; Ariel Pereda, president of the Habana Group, which legally advises those who want to do business with the Island; and Patiño himself, who supported the thaw during the Barack Obama Administration.
The meeting with Díaz-Canel was also attended by members of the Western Union and Crowley companies, representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and businessman Paul Johnson, president of the U.S. Agricultural Coalition.
El Nuevo Herald also reported that about 50 owners of MSMEs on the Island are expected to travel to Miami next week, to study business opportunities. No other details are known.
Joe Biden’s government is expected to soon announce a lifting of restrictions to help Cuban MSMEs
Joe Biden’s government is expected to soon announce a lifting of restrictions to help Cuban MSMEs, according to knowledgeable sources for several American media. They also indicated that these are “specific guidelines” so that U.S. financiers can grant loans to independent companies within the Island.
The new measures will include the opening of bank accounts in U.S. institutions by residents of Cuba, something prohibited until now. In addition, the prohibitions imposed by the Donald Trump Administration on transactions with third countries to send remittances to the Island will allegedly be overturned.
The possibility has raised a heated controversy among organizations opposed to the Havana regime. Washington is not going in the “right direction” in its economic strategies with Havana, the Christian Democratic Party of Cuba said on Wednesday. “Both the credits themselves and the possible opening of bank accounts in the United States are limited and would reach only a select group of people around the layers of power,” they said in a statement.
For its part, the organization Cuba Siglo 21 said that following the game of the regime, “or, even worse, supporting them financially, will only prolong the agony of the Cuban people.”
Translated by Regina Anavy
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