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Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Photography by Bruce Henderson
Editor’s note: On a daily basis from June 1 thru June 30, 2015 Pillar to Post online magazine is featuring articles, photos and insights resulting from a recent group tour, an adventure we dubbed: the April 23 Brigade’s Tour of Cuba 2015. 


The savvy Cuban restaurateur in a private conversation said the embargo will be good for Cubans because it will open the marketplace for other countries.

But other countries are not participating in the embargo—es verdad?

True, he said, but the embargo is very tricky because there is a little known practice in place that it forbids any ship  (tourist or cargo) that docks at Cuban ports to dock at a U.S. port for six months.

Shipping companies that wish to have docking rights in the U.S. don’t go to Cuba.   “We’re not a very big market for shippers, but America is.”

In other words, Sweden may be interested in shipping cars to Cuba, but the shippers don’t want to sacrifice American ports.  So, Sweden sends its cars to let’s say Vietnam instead.

Presently, it’s the socialist countries and many Arab owned ships that call on Cuba.  They’re not concerned with the six month waiting period because they don’t call on US ports anyway.

If the U.S. lifts its embargo then other countries will be more free to ship their goods to Cuba.

But, as the Cuban restaurateur pointed out, the Embargo won’t be lifted until American interests have had their say.  Why lift the embargo if your domestic companies aren’t ready to deal? he asked.

Will Cuba keep out McDonalds and Starbucks?

Why?  Cuba will make deals that help Cuba.  Just because the embargo is lifted doesn’t mean we will roll over and accept the first deal.  He said he recently traveled to Istanbul on a trade mission and noticed McDonald’s in Turkey are very popular.  In fact the one he saw had a maitre’ d in a suit and tie.

Cuba needs infrastructure assistance.   If Starbucks is willing to make a deal that helps contribute to a need then Cuba may grant licenses for foreign businesses like Starbucks.

The architect said if he were making the deal he would make Starbucks pay for the renovation of one large building in order to have rights for every single retail outlet.  If Havana gets 10 Starbucks then we get 10 buildings rehabilitated: how do you say it?

Quid pro quo?

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