Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cuba to Get More Brazilian Investment

Cuba to Get More Brazilian Investment
April 18, 2013

HAVANA TIMES – Brazil is weighing granting the construction company
Odebrecht a $150 million credit to remodel airport terminals in Havana
and other Cuban cities, reports the Reuters news agency, citing
unidentified official sources.

The report from the British agency, datelined São Paulo, says the credit
would be issued by the Brazilian Development Bank, BNDS. The topic
presumably was discussed during a recent visit to Brazil by Cuban Vice
President Marino Murillo, the manager of the economic reforms undertaken
by President Raúl Castro.

"The financing of the airports is under discussion," and the topic "is
subject to an evaluation by the bank's technical staff," the report
says. Reuters says its unidentified source is linked to the
administration of President Dilma Rouseff.

For its part, the Cuban daily newspaper Granma said that Murillo met
"with Brazilian ministers and heads of state institutions dealing with
agricultural and cattle farming, business, and scientific and
technological development. According to Granma, Murillo also met with
Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota and the Vice President of Brazil,
Michel Temer.

The anonymity granted to the Brazilian informant may have resulted from
the government's stated decision to be discreet about its investments in
various countries, Cuba among them, apparently because of malicious
interpretations by some media.

The Cuban press has reported nothing on the possible cooperation to
modernize the airports. Reuters points out that modern airports are an
essential element of the tourism industry, one of Cuba's main sources of
income. Last year, Cuba welcomed 2.8 million foreign tourists, a record

Although the Reuters report says that the work could begin in June and
that Odebrecht already has a team selecting the suppliers of the
materials needed to remodel Havana Airport, it also quotes an Odebrecht
spokesman in São Paulo as saying that the company at this time does not
have representatives in Cuba performing such tasks.

Reuters does not specify which of the Havana Airport terminals – the
oldest one or the one built in the 1990s with Canadian aid – will be

It is very true that the Cuban government is working hard to improve
infrastructure. New highways are being built and existing roads are
being maintained. Passenger and freight trains, engineering works that
range from dams and viaducts through several provinces, and the ailing
air fleet that provides national and foreign transportation are some of
the projects selected to boost tourism and the domestic economy.

Reuters is right when it says that Brazil right now is one of Cuba's
principal commercial and financial allies. The BNDS underwrites as much
as 80 percent of the exportation of engineering services and capital
assets by those Brazilian companies that undertake works agreed upon by
national governments. If the reports are confirmed, the cost of the
works done in Cuban airports could amount to nearly $190 million.

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