April 22, 2024

The Cuba Factor

Perspectives on changing relationship between Cuba and U.S.

Views on the value of easing relations and how much opportunity it creates - or doesn't - for U.S. businesses in Cuba.

"The opening of Cuba will not be like the opening of Eastern Europe. Eastern Europe was only doing business Carlos E. Loumiet with the Warsaw Pact countries and very, very little trade with the West. When it opened up, there was a huge underserved market. The Cubans are not denied Western products. The only country that does not trade with Cuba is the United States. … There's a disconnect between what is politically and diplomatically a very exciting turn of events and what is commercially a pretty small opportunity."

- John Price, managing director, America's Market Intelligence, Miami

"Given the continuation of general restrictions on trade, investment, banking and tourism with Cuba, the United States has not surrendered its economic leverage in future dealings with Cuba, nor will major U.S. corporations be rushing into Cuba on a large scale anytime soon."

- Carlos E. Loumiet, Raciel Perez, attorneys, Broad and Cassel, in an analysis called "Cuba 2015"

"Poorly designed sanctions tend to be easily circumvented: Even with the embargo in place, the U. S. is Cuba's fifth-largest trading partner, a position it has held since 2007 (helped by the decision of President George W. Bush to authorize the sale of agricultural products in 2003). Further, the fact that Europe and Asia have not joined America's embargo means that any U.S. firm with the right finance and transport infrastructure can easily navigate around the restrictions. And easily circumvented bans, in turn, tend to be the most difficult to remove. With such little discomfort felt by American industry, few, if any, have lobbied to end it (stacked up, of course, against a highly vocal Cuban expatriate community that, on balance, still falls reliably in favor of maintaining, if not strengthening the ban)."

- Jennifer M. Harris, senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, writing in Fortune magazine

"I don't see Cuba allowing a lot of foreign direct investment. Cuba has not abandoned its ideology."

- Jose Azel, senior research associate, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami

"Interaction is more positive than isolation. Once that interaction is set loose, there's no turning back. I don't think there's any state that can resist democratization when they come into the world. I think it's going to have the effect people are hoping it will have."

- Tom Auxter, president, United Faculty of Florida

"Cuba's impact on Florida could be positive over time if full trade opening occurs on a step-wise basis, concurrent with steady implementation of economic and political reforms on the island."

- Tony Villamil, Washington Economics Group

"President Obama's announcement of Dec. 17, 2014, changed the dynamic on U.S. policy toward Cuba dramatically! But for U.S. agriculture, the president's announced policy changes are likely to have relatively little impact on U.S. food and agricultural exports to Cuba in the short run."

- William A. Messina Jr., UF/IFAS Food and Resource Economics Department

"The day the embargo is lifted, the Dominican Republic will commit suicide. The Dominicans inherited our sugar, tobacco and tourism industries. Once Cuba is open again, nobody will be interested in the D.R. You wait and see."

- Miguel Coyula, architect, urban planner, Havana, interviewed by Larry Luxner at newsismybusiness.com

"It is my belief that we approach this process with the wrong assumption that U.S. policy is what's responsible for what is wrong in Cuba and getting rid of the policy will fix it. Raul Castro's only interest is economics. They don't want to be our friends. They still believe the same things they believed 50 years ago. … Cuba is the perfect combination where you could have a foreign policy that is based on moral and principles, the same principles the United States tries to promote, democracy, respect for human rights, respect for law. China violates human rights, but you cannot isolate China. It has the second-largest economy, nuclear tipped missiles and 1. 3 billion people. You cannot deal with China the way you do with Cuba. Vietnam is 90 million people. But the big difference is Vietnam came to us knocking on our door saying we want to be friends with you; we want to have normal relations. They started working with us to find MIAs. We talked for years. They wanted to be our friends. This is a country that violates human rights, absolutely, but it's seeking a friendly relation with the United States because we have common goals and common enemies. In the case of Cuba, this hasn't happened."

- Sebastian Arcos, associate director, Cuba Research Institute, Florida International University.

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