USA-CUBA: Tango is Danced by Two. Inspired by the opening process between the US and Cuba, I decided to evaluate the possibilities of developing business under the very new circumstances. I began to take the first steps compiling informative material on Cuba in terms of foreign investment regulations, economic development zones, and immigration procedures and, of course, all information related to the evolution of the US-Cuba bilateral relationship. .
With great enthusiasm I started putting together the website www. so that it could serve as a reference for all the people and institutions interested in settling or investing on the Island. Once the website was operational, I began to prepare my trip to Havana. to hire a consulting firm there that would be able to assist investors from Florida who showed interest in the new market.
President Obama's trip to Cuba, from March 21 to 22, 2016, and the achievements he obtained in his sowing of hope in the Caribbean people, raised even more my expectations of participating with my humble contribution in the economic transformation of Cuba. He saw in that historic day the turning point between a past of mistrust and rancor towards a relationship full of good intentions and fruitful optimism.
President Obama's visit made Cuba fashionable in front of the rest of the world. The media clearly reflected the new position of the Cuban people towards the US when they no longer shout Yankees Go Home! but rather Yankees Welcome!
Thus, on Sunday night of April 10, 2016, I arrived in Havana on a charter flight from Miami. The next day I took a taxi and went to the headquarters of the Cuban Chamber of Commerce to request the necessary orientation to advance my business projects.
The Cuban Chamber of Commerce operates out of two old houses in the El Vedado neighborhood that display impressive carved wooden doors, beautiful marble stairs and other architectural details that survive a bygone age of opulence. A friendly receptionist attended me courteously and informed me that if I wanted to be received by an official, I had to have a previously arranged appointment at the Cuban Consulate in Washington and, in addition, present a business visa stamped at the consular headquarters.
After that first “strike” I turned around and decided to talk with people outside of Câmara who were versed in the Cuban economic issue. After discussing with two illustrious Cubans, experts in foreign investment, foreign trade and migration issues, it was not difficult for me to reach the conclusion that Cuba is not yet ready to receive the wealth of business that the rest of the world is willing to inject into it.
State control over the bulk of economic activity and the lack of a legal platform that guarantees due legal security to foreign businessmen are the most important obstacles to economic development on the Island.
A person like me, accustomed to Western business uses and customs, finds it difficult to understand the reasons for the Cuban government to oppose changes that would promote the general well-being of the impoverished local population and would create the conditions for its diminished economy to grow. on firm foundations. For this reason, the recent announcements of drastically cutting spending on electricity, imports and investment, and reducing fuel consumption by 28 percent clash with the perception that the world business community has that Cuba is changing.
And the thing is, if Cuba is changing, it is doing so at a snail's pace. In 2015, the Department of Commerce issued 490 authorizations to do business in Cuba, for a volume of operations of 4.300 billion dollars, projects that for the most part have yet to materialize.
There is no doubt that if Cuba wants to take advantage of the momentum where the opening of relations with the United States has placed it, it has to urgently dismantle its bureaucratic scaffolding and improve its legal platform to accommodate the immense flow of capital and technology that foreign businessmen would be willing to pump up its economy.
It would be a pity if Raúl Castro did not give an adequate reading to everything that is happening inside and outside the Island because, now that Obama has made Cuba fashionable, Raúl must not forget that "the tango is danced by two."
*Author: Alfredo Gonzalez Amaré* Former Superintendent of Foreign Investments and Founding President of the Foreign Trade Bank of Venezuela. /

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