HAVANA, September 23 The Cuban government would be exploring the possibility of allowing Cuban-American citizens to invest and own businesses in Cuba,in a desperate attempt to stop the serious crisis that is sinking the country’s economy at an increasing rate.
This was revealed by Cuban officials during a meeting between President Miguel Díaz-Canel and representatives of American companies and Cuban-Americans from the Miami business community, as revealed in an article in El Nuevo Herald.
We are “contemplating it and working on legislation to achieve it,” regime officials said this Friday to several people who asked them about that possibility during a closed-door event at the Cuban mission to the United Nations.
This was communicated by Miami lawyer Ralph Patiño, who was present during the exchange, to journalist specialized in Cuban issues Nora Gámez Torres, who highlighted that this is not the first time that the Cuban regime has flirted with this offer to a community which he rejects in the political sphere, but on which he depends economically.
“This is the dog that bites its tail, because the United States is waiting for them to take the first step, and they are waiting for the United States to take the first step,” Patiño said. “But I have a feeling that they know this is the only way to basically keep their country without something drastic happening.”
The lawyer, who supported efforts to collaborate with Havana during Barack Obama’s policy shift, said that “if those ties had been allowed to flourish, Cuba would have been a different country in 2023.”
Despite previous signals in this regard, the Cuban regime has not yet issued specific regulations to allow foreigners, including Cuban Americans, to own or invest in small and medium-sized businesses, known as MSMEs, authorized for the first time in 2021.
Díaz-Canel alluded on his social networks to his meeting with American businessmen to discuss new business opportunities in Cuba and changes in the country’s economy.
However, he did not mention that some of the businessmen were Cuban-Americans from Miami, such as Mike Fernández, Ariel Pereda, owner of a company that exports to Cuba, and Hugo Cancio, owner of Katapulk, the largest online marketplace for MSMEs.
In this way, he highlighted the “love of the country” of those who listened to him at the event, in contrast to the civil society actors who demonstrated these days against him in the streets of New York.
During the meeting, the businessmen urged the Cuban government to eliminate obstacles to foreign investment and the growth of the private sector. Despite government control, the private sector in Cuba has grown and become a major importer of food and basic supplies, many of which are purchased from American companies.
Also present was Carlos Saladrigas, president of the Cuba Study Group, an organization that says it has helped train thousands of Cuban entrepreneurs over the years. Representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Western Union, the Crowley shipping company, and Paul Johnson, president of the U.S. Agricultural Coalition for Cuba, which represents nearly 100 member companies, were among those invited to the meeting.
The Biden administration has focused its efforts on supporting the Cuban private sector and is expected to soon announce regulations allowing owners of Cuban private businesses to open and operate bank accounts in the United States.
Additionally, according to the aforementioned media, a group of small Cuban businessmen are expected to visit Miami in search of business opportunities and to understand the US regulations that affect their businesses.
“While it was helpful that President Díaz-Canel created time in his schedule to meet with private sector representatives, the meeting was a missed opportunity to make progress,” John Kavulich, president of the US-Cuba Trade and Trade Commission, told El Nuevo Herald. Economic Council, who was informed of the conversations held.
In his opinion, the meeting “was a repetition of complaints rather than discussing in detail how to get more out of what is currently authorized” by US government agencies.