Cuba sends maritime delegation to US

HAVANA, Jan. 23th  (AFP) – A delegation of port and maritime officials from Cuba has arrived in the United States for talks on “business opportunities and foreign investment,” the Granma official newspaper said on Sunday.

In its online edition, the communist party daily wrote that the main goal of the talks is to “promote the potential that exists in Cuba’s maritime sector,” especially at its new deepwater port in Mariel, some 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Havana.

The visit, the first from Cuba during the Donald Trump administration, will take the trade officials to various US ports and runs through February 3, according to Granma.

The Port of Mariel, which opened in 2014, is a centerpiece of Cuba’s future trade and economic development plans.

The Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper reported that the Cuban delegation will be traveling to Port Everglades later this week.

The Tampa Bay Times wrote that the visit, which began Saturday, will also include a stop in that city on Florida’s west coast on February 1-2.

The visit was arranged during the Barack Obama administration, which initiated moves toward normalization of relations at the end of 2014.

Obama, who handed over the office of the US presidency to Trump two days ago, eased trade restrictions to allow certain products from private cooperative farms in Cuba to be exported.

But Havana is eager to see an end to a decades-old US trade embargo which remains in place despite the restoration of US-Cuba diplomatic ties.

The Republican-controlled US Congress is reluctant to lift the embargo on the communist island, whose government is branded a dictatorship.