Russia’s UAZ to Open a Vehicle Assembly Plant in Cuba

The company was founded in 1941 to provide the USSR with vehicles to face the advance of German troops. (TASS/Izvestiya)

UAZ executives said the plant will operate in alliance with Cuban companies, although the name or location of the factory is not known.

By 14ymedio

HAVANA TIMES – The announcement of the opening in Cuba of an assembly plant of the Uliánovsk Automobile Factory (UAZ) is one of the many symptoms of the good health of relations between Havana and Moscow. The company’s directors said that they will send the first batch of machines to the Island between July and August.

According to an article published last Tuesday in Russia’s official newspaper, Izvestia, UAZ will install a plant that will operate with the “screwdriver” method, a system used by large manufacturers that consists of sending the body parts of a vehicle to the country where it will be sold, since it is much cheaper than exporting a finished unit.

Founded in 1941, UAZ specializes in off-road vehicles, military transport, buses and trucks. Cuba is interested in cargo transport from the UAZ Profi range, as well as ambulances created from the UAZ Loaf model (van type).

The directors of UAZ pointed out that the plant will operate in alliance with Cuban companies, although the name and location of the assembler is not known.

These would not be the first vehicles of this type to circulate on the streets of the Island. In December 2016, the UAZ carrying the ashes of Fidel Castro, in a caravan that crossed much of the Island, stopped due to a breakdown in the streets of Santiago de Cuba, and five young soldiers had to push the car.

Havana hosted a business forum last week, where a closer alliance between Moscow and the Cuban regime was consolidated. In this meeting, Cuba offered Russian businessmen the right to hold land in usufruct for 30 years, in addition to tax exemptions for the import of agricultural machinery.

Boris Titov, president of the Cuba-Russia Business Council, said that in order for these business plans to move forward, they expect “the reduction of bureaucratic barriers,” and the Díaz-Canel Government has shown unconditional support for changing Cuban legislation.

The arrival of Russian companies on the Island also means a change in the financial system, and the authorities of the Central Bank of Cuba are streamlining authorization for the start of operations of three banks with Russian capital.

Since the Ukrainian war began, the rapport and agreements between Russia and Cuba have been growing. Moscow needs allies after the majority rejection of the invasion, and Havana is trying to resurrect a devastated economy. Last March, ATMs on the Island began to accept cards from the Russian payment system MIR, the version of Visa or Mastercard launched by the Kremlin in 2016 to avoid possible economic sanctions.

The Russian press says that Bolivia became the first country in Latin America to allow the purchase of UAZ vehicles in rubles. “The new form of payment will significantly simplify interaction with the Bolivian side and, in the foreseeable future, will help strengthen the brand’s presence in the region,” the statement adds.

However, the arrival of new Russian officials has raised the alerts of the Cuba Siglo 21 [21st Century] think tank, which describes the alliance as a “transition to a mafia state” and calls on Cubans abroad to be attentive to Russian interference and the possibility of Moscow sending weapons to the Island.

Translated by Regina Anavy for Translating Cuba


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5 thoughts on “Russia’s UAZ to Open a Vehicle Assembly Plant in Cuba

  • Jajaja esos autos van a soltar los amortiguadores en las calles y carreteras de cuba llenas de huecos y baches.. Cuba no tiene infraestructura para un desarrollo exponencial, no tienes viales, circunvalación, pasos a desnivel, ferrocarriles, metros en fin.. con 4 carros no va a resolver nada.. además vayan abriendo gasolineras Grazpron y demás porque tampoco hay petróleo ni gasolina y vayan dando de baja a todas esas empresas eléctricas que se apagan cuando sube la carga.. jajaja.. chau nos vemos en la Cuba de “palmas de mayorca”..

  • Brian Duffett: Are you aware that US regulations permit investment by US citizens and companies in Cuban small and medium sized businesses? But, each specific investment requires permission of the Cuban government. The first application was made of the Cuban government 10 May 2022. It remains unapproved.

  • To bad USA can’t see the opportunities just off their doorstep. It’s time to move on. There is so much more that can be done from the inside, sanctions have failed for 60 years, why not try something new?

  • Bob:

    It definitely is a different situation – completely.

    Henry Ford operated in a competitive, free market, democratic economic environment. He also paid his Ford employees very well comparatively. None of these critical and crucial economic elements exist in totalitarian, communist Cuba. Do you actually think the communist government will be paying those Cuban car assemblers competitive wages? Any wages that are to be comparative to the outside world are automatically seized by the government and they will pay the employees poverty wages in keeping with the poverty wages through out the island. That certainly makes for quality work down that assembly line.

    Plus, it all depends what you mean by “successful”. Will this automotive initiative be successful for the Russian oligarchs? Of course it will be. Whatever the Russians do or say, their propaganda machine will make whatever initiative they implement “successful”. Certainly a good cover to import unto the island any type of machinery, parts, whether for commercial, automotive, or military purposes.

    Will this brazen automotive assembly be successful in Cuba? It certainly will be for the totalitarian decision makers because they will also spin whatever they do as “successful”. Any economic windfall will fall directly into the pockets of the rulers. Hasn’t that been the case historically?

    Will this brand new assembly plant be an opportunity for the majority of ordinary Cubans? Don’t know. All we have to do is recite historical initiatives in the Cuban economy over the past 60 plus years and ask what has the Cuban government initiated, whether unilaterally or bilaterally, that has transpired into economic success for the ordinary, everyday, average Cuban? Nothing – zero.

    Going forward, it will be interesting to see what transpires with this initiative particularly the response of the United States if it is discovered that those so called Russian “car parts” are actually military hardware. It has happened before. Cuba is in a dire, desperate economic, state. The desperate Cuban rulers will do and accept anything that the ideological masters in Russia dictate and deliver. The Cuban rulers have been hoodwinked by Russia in the past – Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev to be precise.

    Russia would love nothing better than to show the Americans what it feels like to have a Russian allied partner with dubious intentions some 90 miles off the coast of Florida – a staunch Republican state to boot.

    We will see if this potential initiative delivers vehicles and the economic spin offs of such a venture to Cubans, or delivers something more sinister. Hopefully, not the latter.

  • Henry Ford had Model T final assembly plants such as this scattered around the US. He was successful. Will Russia and Cuba be? Or, is it a different situation?

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