Financial Snag between Angola and Cuba Settled

By Sayli Sosa  (OnCuba)

Médicos cubanos.
Médicos cubanos.

HAVANA TIMES — The bags had been packed when a new order arrived. “We’ve been informed no one has to leave. The problem of the debt has been solved,” a Cuban health worker based in Angola tells OnCuba.

The message arrived when rumors in Cuba maintained the island’s health personnel and experts were leaving Angola owing to a lack of payment for their services.

Angola’s financial problems and inability to meet its commitments with the Cuban government came to light in May, when Cuban authorities approached Luanda with a proposal to create a joint commission to analyze issues of bilateral interest, including the debt.

At the time, the Angolan health minister told the Angolan Press Agency (ANGOP) that there were “certain concerns regarding the debt to Cuba, arising from the current global situation and, consequently, the readjustment of the 2015 State budget.”

The health official added that the sums owed would be paid and that “despite the current debt, we’re going to continue to promote joint initiatives.”

The crisis required the attention of the highest levels of government. In July, Vice-Chair of the Cuban Council of Ministers Ricardo Cabrisas traveled to southwest Africa. Following the meeting, the head of the America Department of the Angolan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Francico Jose Da Cruz, remarked that relations between the two nations continued to be dynamic, “but that adjustments within these long-standing collaborative ties were being made because the country is in financial arrears owing to the sudden drop in the oil price on the international market.”

Angola’s failure to pay for Cuban services had led to the decision to terminate the contracts of the 4,000 professionals that today are providing services in sectors such as education (1,400) and health (1,800).

Despite the farewells published on social networks, where some Cuban professionals announced their unexpected return home prior to the end of their contract, little or nothing of this has been mentioned by the island’s official media.

Beyond Angola

The sudden drop in the price of oil, valued at 114.49 dollars a barrel in 2008 and today below 50, has not only had an impact on Angola’s economy – it has also brought serious consequences for Venezuela.

More than 30 thousand Cuban health professionals are currently working in Venezuela: 1,163 in the cultural mission, 1,500 in the Barrio Adentro Deportivo sports initiative and a similar number in the educational project. This constitutes by far the largest number of Cuban professionals working abroad and provides one of the island’s main sources of revenue.

More than 51,000 health professionals are currently working in 67 countries around the world under contracts with the State-run Comercializadora de Servicios Medicos de Cuba (“Cuban Medical Services Company”)

However, very little is known about how these professionals live abroad, the emotional and personal cost of being away from home, the number of people who abandon their missions, the degree of satisfaction with the pay and the ups and downs of an exportable resource that is directly affected by the fluctuations of the economies of receiving countries (as became evident in Angola).

“They say that Raul Castro said that if Cuba didn’t abandon Angola during the toughest years of the war, it surely wouldn’t abandon it now. That’s why he told everyone to stop packing their bags,” another professor tells us, convinced of this.

There’s no way to confirm this version of events, and Raul Castro’s government has shown a tendency to moderate the altruism that characterized previous Cuban internationalist missions.

Three different types of collaboration agreements have been implemented since the reform process began in Cuba: one in which Cuba covers the larger costs, others where it shares these and a third which is purely profit-driven. We have not been able to determine which of the three was implemented in Angola.

Cuba’s businesses with the sub-Saharan country also include such sectors as construction, energy, water, transportation and defense. A Reuters dispatch from Luanda dated July 15 published statements by Ricardo Cabrisas, who announced that the Angolan oil company Sonangol could begin prospecting in the Gulf of Mexico Exclusive Zone controlled by Cuba in 2017.

The start of oil exploration in the area will however depend on what progress is achieved between Havana and Washington, as the lifting of the maritime blockade and the restricted areas of the Gulf of Mexico are pending issues following the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

5 thoughts on “Financial Snag between Angola and Cuba Settled

  • You state that oil prices are being manipulated. If so it is certainly not by the oil companies which are suffering major losses.
    So who can it be that is manipulating prices?
    You refer to the “Evil Doers”, who are they?
    You refer to “these cockroaches” who are they?
    Although you refer for some unknown reason to Angola (three times), you fail to note that the low prices for oil affect all producing countries and benefit oil consuming countries. As His self appointed representative on these pages, what does God think about that?
    Don’t bother to thank me!

  • The price of oil is being manipulated deliberately and effects are to divide otherwise good relationships and test intestinal fortitude . The people of Angola are one of many being squeezed by this policy of low prices as recent facts have shown inaccurate accounting of production , overestimating , this was deliberate.
    Punishment for individuals whom stand up to these block aids face capitol
    enforcement by the Evil Doers. The production of oil requires proper enviromental procedures and the oil price should be sufficient to support this and it is 1/5
    what it should be and so the wildlife suffers due to poor government . This economic
    situation could be solved with debasing the current oil currency since these cockroaches are using it as a weapon, affecting gods creatures whom have no voice .
    The “RED TIDE” effecting the coastal waters of NorthAmerica are an example of Gods abilityto create and his creation requires better care and higher priorities
    and oil can provide more funding for the enviroment and health care in Angola.
    Proper management is not possible with governments who foolishly waste what God has given them.You can save more with higher prices and the Idea to stop investing and devalue oil is not a sound aproach since it leads to situations
    of unnecessary harm wich could have been avoided with proper funding.
    I would not be fooled into abandoning my good relations either, find some bartering grounds and be progressive towards Angola and others as you would
    have done to you.
    Thank You

  • Yes, but the socialist world is full of conundrums.
    Some of the statistics given are interesting. The figure of 51,000 Cubans providing medical services around the world in 67 countries explains why Cuba claims to have the highest ratio of Doctors per capita in the world – without explaining that actually the figure is inflated by not mentioning that such a large number are in abstentia.
    In our family we have had one medical member work in Venezuela and currently another teaching in Venezuela with a third teaching in Equador. But the Cuban educational system is short of teachers. Obviously it is more important to obtain hard currency by selling educational services to other countries than it is to have sufficient teachers for the children of Cuba.
    There is a key point made when the article observes that:
    “Raul Castro’s government has shown a tendency to moderate the altruism that characterized previous Cuban internationalist missions.”
    No mention that the so-called altruism was in reality the commercial sale of services for which substantial charges are made and that the revenues form a major economic benefit to the Cuban regime. Yes, compared with receiving such services from elsewhere, the price is cheap – but that only reflects the rates paid by the regime to those medical and teaching staff that carry out the work.

  • There is no “maritime blockade”. That’s another one of those Castro lies told to disguise incompetence. The Spanish, the Russians, the Brazilians and the Chinese have tried and failed to drill and extract a quality crude that can be refined. Hundreds of millions have been spent in this effort. Yet now the Angolans are going to give it a shot? This is the same country that can’t pay Cuba on time for its doctors? I seem to remember that in order to effectively carry out the drill effort, only a handful of drilling platforms in the entire world are available to be used and these rigs are super expensive. How can Angola afford this? There’s something wrong with this story. …..

  • Paying off the Debt Cuba owes is a small price for access to vast North American market and ability to tap off shore oil reserves.

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