May 28, 2004

Cubans given chance to invest

Cubans living abroad are to be invited to invest in their country – an opportunity previously only offered to international investors.
The BBC Caribbean Service has reported that this information was told to them by Cuba’s Ambassador to London Jose Fernandez de Cossio, ahead of an annual Nations and Immigration Conference held in Havana last Friday. That conference annually groups Cuban immigrants from around the world to discuss issues of mutual concern with authorities on the island.{{more}}
The announcement from the Cuban government came on the heels of a recent decision by US President George Bush’s government to impose new sanctions on the island specifically aimed at ending what Bush described as the “tyranny of the Castro regime”.
Amongst other things, dollar remittances from Cuban emigrees are to be restricted; and Cuban-Americans will only be allowed to go home once every three years.
The BBC quoted de Cossio as saying this move amounted to discriminatory practices by the US towards Cubans.
“As you know the US has special legislation that discriminates against the Cuban minority. Actually they are the only minority that cannot travel normally to their home country and they can only send a limited amount of remittance to determined members of their family,” he said.
As well as opening business opportunities to nationals living abroad, the Cuban government has also recently announced that from 1st June Cubans will no longer need permission to return to the island.
De Cossio told BBC that improved technical systems were among the reasons this was happening now.
“Cuba is able to protect itself against individuals that, acting on behalf of US government travelled to Cuba in the past, tried to do so to carry out sabotage, terrorist acts in Cuba and now the official organisation related with immigration feel they are more strong to be able to normalise as possible the relation of Cuba to Cubans living abroad,” de Cossio said.
The hostile measures, aimed at strengthening the blockade of Cuba – detailed in a 500-page US State Department report issued earlier this month – include severe travel restrictions on Cuban-Americans wanting to visit their native land. It also imposed additional limits on financial remittances to family members and several strategic steps aimed at toppling the Cuban government through increased funding to fabricate an internal opposition.
The Cuban government protested the US measures and staged a massive demonstration in front of the United States Interest Section building on Havana’s waterfront.
Cuba also temporarily halted the sales of non-essential items at the many dollar-only shops across the country, many of which were closed for a while. They were, however, reopened earlier this week with prices increased by as much as 15 per cent on items excluding food and toiletries.
The United States has maintained an economic blockade for the last 40 years on the Cuban state in direct contrast to their policy on Communist China which has been designated “most famous nation status” by the same US government.