Foreign Investment in Cuba: Data from the Regime’s ‘Friends’

“Law No. 118. Law of Foreign Investment”

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Elías Amor Bravo, Economist, 11 July 2023 — Friends of the Cuban communist regime are everywhere, even in the most incredible places. Yesterday we had an opportunity to verify that when it comes to helping the Island’s political system, friends do not skimp on resources or prestige. I am referring to the press conference presenting the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) report entitled “Foreign Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean 2023.”

There, the executive secretary of this organization, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, took off with the answer to a question from the Prensa Latina agency and said that in 2022, 35 new businesses with foreign capital were registered on the Island, 18 more than in 2021.

Amazing. And the reality is that when the cited publication is examined, these data are not found anywhere. Specifically, in tables 1.A1.1 to 1.A1.5 (pages 68 to 85), where the statistics of foreign direct investment in Latin America and the Caribbean are presented, there is information from 32 countries in the region, but Cuba does not provide its data, and, therefore, the Island does not appear in any of these basic tables of the report.

Reviewing the rest of the contents of the different sections, the only reference to Cuba is found in solar energy projects and little else. The Island is still on the margins of official information, a practice that the communist regime does not seem to want to change, not even with friends such as ECLAC.

And here comes the best part, because we would have to ask the managing director of the organization by virtue of what or why he has that information about foreign investment on the Island, which does not appear anywhere in the publication presented.

Will we have to believe the managing director and the friendly data he offered from Cuba? Pointing out 35 new businesses with foreign capital, 18 more than in 2021, means accepting a reality that doesn’t exist and that situates the Communist Island as one of the countries with the greatest attraction for foreign capital on the continent. And, he added, those “ghost” projects that do not appear in the official publication, reached an amount of 400 million dollars, about 200 more than in the previous year.

The managing director also reported that the priority sectors for the Caribbean country were food production, with 28%, tourism (18%), oil (16%) and industry (14%). He even reflected on biopharmaceutical products, traditional exports such as nickel, rum, tobacco and sugar, among others, and the exploration of new bets such as cobalt. Cuba has the third largest reserve of this mineral in the world. Also, computer and professional services were mentioned.

And then the source of the data was discovered, by pointing out, and I quote verbatim, that “in the work we have done with the Cuban government we have identified that the main opportunities are associated with the promotion of exports, very important for the reception of foreign currency given the restrictions on access to international markets.”

“Work that we have done with the government.” Hence the data offered by the director of ECLAC to Prensa Latina takes them for a walk in communist propaganda. Which, more or less, they don’t even believe. And the bad thing is that this type of information discredits even more the information sources on the Cuban economy, which detracts from their credibility and certainty doesn’t help if they intend to access capital movements worldwide.

This “work between friends” has led ECLAC to “highlight the benefits of the Opportunity Portfolio,” described as “a policy design that updates and structures data on investment projects and systematizes information by sectors, amounts and provinces.” And although it seems a lie to them, the director of ECLAC publicly praised the single window of Castro’s foreign investment, saying that “it allows the expedition of permits, licenses and authorizations.”

You have to see the friends of the regime. They can be anywhere and appear when you least expect it. In a year in which ECLAC has confirmed that foreign direct investment in Latin America has grown by 55.2% in 2022, reaching its highest historical value, it “gives” the Cuban communist regime a similar growth. Without Cuba making its foreign investment data public in the report, it’s still something valuable. But useless, since everyone knows that foreign capital passes by those who do not pay their debts and are continually indebted because they lack financial solvency. Trying to say the opposite is a waste of time.

In any case, if the data of 400 million dollars of foreign investment were true, it would be appropriate to make a comparison with the data from the Dominican Republic that (this is official and has been disclosed in the same report) reaches 4.01 billion dollars, ten times more. Cuban communists should take good note of it.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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