HAVANA TIMES — President Raul Castro and his Brazilian counterpart Dilma Rousseff today inaugurated the first part of the container terminal at the port of Mariel, Cuba’s largest current infrastructure project, funded with support from Brazil, reported dpa.
Rousseff and Castro led a delegation that traveled to the small port town about 25 miles west of Havana that also included the presidents of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, and Bolivia, Evo Morales, among other guests.
“Brazil is proud to partner with Cuba in this first container port in the Caribbean,” Rousseff said in a brief statement after symbolically helping Castro cut the ribbon.
“This project has received significant funding from the Brazilian government on favorable terms,” recalled Raul Castro.
The Mariel port project received a credit of 682 million US dollars from the National Economic and Social Development Bank of Brazil, the largest share of a total planned investment in 957 million dollars, according to the Cuban media.
“This terminal will be the main entrance and departure of Cuban foreign trade,” said Raul Castro.
The container terminal is part of the Mariel Special Development Zone, inaugurated on November 1, 2013. The industrial park of 465.4 square kilometers is similar to the free trade zones that drove China’s economic development in the late 70s.
Under the government of Raul Castro, the island has carried out in recent years a number of economic reforms with market elements after decades of state monopoly.
Rousseff and the other leaders arrived over the weekend to Cuba, as the first wave of dignitaries coming to participate in the second summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which will session on Tuesday and Wednesday with heads of state and representatives of 33 countries in the region.