Cuba Hosts High Level Delegation of US Business Execs

By Progreso Weekly

Tom Donohue and his Chamber of Commerce delegation arriving yesterday to Havana.
Thomas Donohue and his Chamber of Commerce delegation arriving yesterday to Havana.  Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — A delegation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce arrived Tuesday afternoon in Havana, led by its chief executive officer, Thomas J. Donohue; Steve Van Andel, chairman of the Chamber’s board of directors and president of the Amway corporation; and Marcel Smits, executive vice president and financial director of the Cargill corporation, the daily Granma reported.

After their arrival, they met with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla and Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment.

According to Granma, “during their stay in Cuba, they will conduct other meetings and visit places of interest connected mainly with the process of updating of our economic model.”

In a statement posted on the Chamber’s website, Donohue wrote that the “trip will provide us with a first-hand look at changes in Cuba’s economic policies and whether or not they are affecting the ability to do business there.”

“We want to learn more about these reforms, determine if they have brought about real and lasting changes, and find ways to encourage Cuba’s budding private sector,” Donohue stated. “We will report our findings to lawmakers, our members, and the American business community.”

The Chamber describes itself as “the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.”

5 thoughts on “Cuba Hosts High Level Delegation of US Business Execs

  • If we can get past the extremist on left and right, Mr. Donahue can move the relationship forward. Perhaps the way to end the totalitarian state is by letting it evolve. Crushing it with an embargo of 50 years has been a losing proposition. Leverage to move nations into line can be achieved with greater efficiency when they value the relationship and trade terms they don’t want to lose. Raul is not perfect, but his moves to reform the economic model should be recognized and supported in tangible ways.

  • The USCC is a business not political organization. As such its interests are commercial. The inclusion of Marcel Smits in the group is interesting when one considers Cargill’s agricultural and food interests. I wonder what he will think about about the tens of thousands of acres of good land reverting to bush. Will he be able to resist the temptation to voice his opinions about the productive potential of that land? Money has no morality. Cargill’s empire no doubt includes production of some of the many food products currently imported by the Castro regime from the US. We all have to remember that Cuba already does many millions of dollars of business with the US. The Castros are not averse to trading with the country that placed the embargo on them fifty three years ago.

  • Will Donohue get an accurate picture of the situation in Cuba if he limits his contacts to the Castro regime and those few other Cubans the regime deems reliable? Will they be allowed to visit jailed Canadian businesman, Cy Tokmaakjian, who languishes in La Condesa prison with no charges filed?

    The USCC has received quite a bit of criticism for this visit:

    “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman has told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that he believes its trip to Cuba is a bad idea. Writing to the chamber, Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey said Cuba isn’t an attractive investment opportunity because the government unjustifiably jails foreign business leaders and breaks international labor standards. He questions the merits of engaging a government controlling almost all the country’s economic activity.”

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