Monday, March 31, 2014

Cuba for Foreigners

Cuba for Foreigners / Miriam Celaya
Posted on March 31, 2014

HAVANA, Cuba – On Saturday 29 March 2014 the Cuban Parliament "will
debate" in a special session period the new Foreign Investment Law,
another desperate attempt by the regime to attract foreign businessmen
who choose to risk their capital and ships where those of others have
already been shipwrecked.

This time the scenario and the circumstances are markedly different from
the decades of the 90s, when the fragile and dependent Cuban economy
touched bottom and the government had no other alternative but to
reluctantly open it to foreign capital, creating then a Foreign
Investment Law that granted some legitimacy and limited guarantees for

Hugo Chavez's rise to power in Venezuela at the end of this same decade
came to the rescue of the regime with new subsidies that allowed
backtracking on the opening to capital and the small private family
businesses that arose in the midst of the privations of the period.

Paradoxically, 15 years later, the critical socio-economic and political
situation in Venezuelan situation, which threatens to collapse the
Bolivarian project, once again closing the sources nourishing the Cuban
government, strongly affects a new search for foreign capital because
this is the only way the system will survive, but the investors are
reluctant and skeptical given the absence of a legal framework to
protect the invested capital.

It is rumored that the recent visit of José Ignacio Lula Da Silva to
Cuba , concerned about the risk of elevated investments from Brazil and
the delay of the government of the Island in updating the Foreign
Investment Law, was the definitive touch that made the Cuban cupola
decide to push its approval, postponed several times. There are also
unofficial rumors about the freezing the Brazilian investments in the
Mariel Special Development Zone, and the approval of new credit to the
Cuban side, until there are adequate legal safeguards. The agreements
are no longer based in solidarity, but rather on purely capitalist
financial and commercial relations.

Propaganda at the Recent International Trade Fair of Havana

The new Foreign Investment Law in progress, therefore, is to "strengthen
the guarantees of the investors," while it "also contemplates the total
tax credits and exemptions in determined circumstances, was well an
increased flexibility with regards to customs, to encourage investment,"
according to the statements from José Luis Toledo Santander, president
of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly of People's Power
which, "deals with the Constitutional and Legal Affairs," (Granma,
Saturday March 17, 2014, page 3), elements not covered in the Law.

Also the high official declared that the draft presented to the
deputies,"established the priority character of foreign investment in
almost all sectors of the economy, particularly those related to
production." Clearly, a self-employed person is not the same thing as a
capitalist entrepreneur, in case anyone had any doubts.

In the preparatory process, which according to the official press has
been developing throughout the country, participating along with the
deputies have been "specialists, functionaries from the municipal and
provincial governments, representatives of international legal
consultants and consultants from important businesses; in general people
who could support the discussion." (Emphasis by this author.) A plot
behind closed doors of which some harmless notes have reached the
national media, but the common people are nothing more than this
conglomerate of spectators incapable and prevented from making some
"contribution" and should swallow the pill as the olive-green
filibusters stipulate.

The "main concerns and contributions of the deputies" in the so-called
process of analysis and discussion of the draft on the Island revolved
around "the labor rights of the Cubans who work on these projects, the
terms for the investment and the protection of the National Patrimony,"
omitting the fundamental question: the privileging of foreigners over
what should be the national rights of Cubans. A details that recalls
that "Carolina Black Code" that in 1842 recognized the doubtful rights
and privileges of slaves such as corporal punishment not exceeding 25
lashes, and the prize of freedom in exchange for the betrayal of fellow

Almost 40 years of experience in parliamentary simulations allow us to
anticipate that, like all the previous laws "discussed," this one will
also be unanimously approved by the choir of ventriloquists from the
from the orchestra seats in the headquarters of the farce, the Palace of
Conventions, on March 29th. For now, many of the parliamentarians have
conceded that the new Law "is in complete harmony" with the economic
adjustments drive by the General-President in his process of updating
the model, another experiment that—indeed—will allow him, through
capital, through capital, the solving of the ever pressing problems of
building socialism.

Miriam Celaya

28 March 2014

Source: Cuba for Foreigners / Miriam Celaya | Translating Cuba -

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