Money or oil, what is Ricardo Cabrisas looking for in the United Arab Emirates?

Money or oil, what is Ricardo Cabrisas looking for in the United Arab Emirates?

HAVANA, Oct. 4 The  Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Cuba and Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Ricardo Cabrisas, began an unusual visit on Mondayto the United Arab Emirates (USA), in which, according to the official press of the Island, he seeks to “deepen the ties that unite both peoples.”

According to the report in the official newspaper Granma, Cabrisas, one of the main negotiators of the Cuban regime, traveled “at the head of a delegation made up of officials from various Cuban ministries and institutions, who will hold working meetings” in the Arab nation.

The brief note indicates that the trip “will be conducive to extending the gratitude of the Cuban Government and people to the Emirati authorities for the funds provided by that country to various social projects in Cuba.”

Ricardo Cabrisas and his Emirati counterpart, Abdullah Ahmed Al Saleh, on Tuesday in Dubai. THE GULF MAIL

Likewise, the members of the Cuban delegation “will meet with authorities of the Emirati Government to review the state of commercial, financial and cooperation relations in various spheres” and to “materialize the will expressed by both governments to enhance ties of cooperation at the same level of excellent political-diplomatic relations”.

According to the Arabic newspaper El Correo del Golfo, Cabrisas met with the United Arab Emirates Deputy Minister of Economy, Abdullah Ahmed Al Saleh, and toured the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

But there are loose threads in this information: Cabrisas does not usually make frequent official trips, despite his role as an investment promoter in Cuba.

His role within the Cuban power apparatus for decades has been as an astute negotiator. He was in charge, for example, of renegotiating the debt with the Paris Club in 2015, which gave oxygen to Raúl Castro.

Since then, one of his annual tasks has been to travel to the French capital every year to renegotiate the outstanding sum, or to deal with complaints from creditors when they travel to Havana.

In June the latter made a tour that took him to Paris, Moscow and India. In Russia, he met with his counterpart, Yuri Borisov, to discuss Moscow’s investments in the areas of industry, energy, agriculture, finance and others, while in New Delhi he sealed the opening of a 100 million euro credit line that made Havana the state Exim Bank.

In May, he presented facilities for Russian investment in sectors such as energy to Maxim Oreshkin, economic advisor to President Vladimir Putin, who visited Havana.

That same month, he was in charge of sealing, together with the vice president of Russia, Dmitri Chernyshenko, the final minutes of the 20th session of the Intergovernmental Commission for bilateral collaboration, in which several Moscow investments on the Island were agreed.

It is no small fact that the regime is hunting for oil suppliers, and the United Arab Emirates has one of the largest reserves in the Middle East.

Likewise, last June the official Cuban media reported that authorities from Dubai, one of the emirates that are part of the United States, said they were interested in Cuban “medical collaboration” after the general director of its Health Authority, Humaid al Qutami, received a delegation headed by the Cuban ambassador to the Arab nation, Roberto Blanco Domínguez.

According to the official Prensa Latina, these officials discussed “the possibility of employing Cuban professionals (doctors and nurses) in Dubai Health facilities.” The head of the Cuban diplomatic mission assured in response that “any association with Dubai will be an important opportunity to achieve common objectives.”

It would not be unusual for an agreement of that nature to be concluded. In 2021, 110 Cuban doctors exported by Havana worked in the Persian Gulf nation treating Covid-19 patients.

There they worked in four hospitals, including three field institutions in the emirates of Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah, and the SheikKhalifa General Hospital in the emirate of Ajman. It is unknown how much the island’s regime charged for that business.

Since this week, Cuba has been experiencing the worst oil supply crisis since the so-called Special Period of the 1990s, and the need to resolve it is urgent. Hence, Cabrisas’ trip could generate headlines in a short time.