Special Development Region Coming to Cuba
Desperation for Trade and Employment Drives the Measure
Posted by Fergus Hodgson on September 20, 2013 at 5:38 pm
The Cuban Council of State has announced a "special development zone"
(una zona especial de desarrollo) for Mariel Harbor of Artemisa
Province. As reported by Radio Angulo, once implemented, the officials
may well replicate this first zone, and the objective is to increase
exports, facilitate imports, enable the adoption of updated technology,
and generate employment opportunities.
Those formalizing the idea, after adoption from the Cuban Communist
Party, made the details available late on Thursday. While the
announcement was scant on policy and heavy on hopes, the law will go
into force in just over a month, on November 1, and it will cover 465
square kilometers (180 square miles). This area will have distinct laws
from the rest of the island, although there appears to be the option to
remain under conventional Cuban laws, should individuals wish to do so.
Most notably, and paradoxically, the port will receive US$900 million in
state investment, including US$640 million loaned from Brazil.
"Mariel is a modern port for deep-sea vessels . . . and [with this
enlargement] Mariel aspires to be the main entry and departure point for
goods shipments of Cuban trade. It is the most important development for
investment at present in the island," the state television channel
This initiative is an acknowledgement of failure in the conventional
policy realm of Cuba, and it presumably comes in response to terrible
press associated with foreign investors and their experiences on the
island. That includes a man from the United Kingdom who had to flee
after 16 months in jail on false fraud and spying charges.
Zachary Caceres, chief information officer with the Startup Cities
Institute of Universidad Francisco Marroquín, believes that the "rule of
law and economic openness are key drivers of growth and prosperity."
However, he is concerned that the reforms will fail to bring results
because of their limited jurisdiction.
"If Cuba's new Special Development Zone can create and maintain
responsible reforms in law and governance, the people of Cuba can start
to break out of years of stagnation.
Unfortunately, the zone appears to be limited to import [and] export
concerns. Cuba should double down on their stated commitment to
'sustainable economic growth' and 'innovative technology' by creating
several more zones to compete with Mariel. Competition will make sure
that zones remain responsible to tenants.
Zones could also be used to create new schools, residencies, and
countless other benefits for the nation. Mariel may be a start, but the
prosperity of all Cubans will require a broader commitment to openness
and good governance."
Source: "Special Development Region Coming to Cuba: Desperation for
Trade and Employment Drives the Measure" -