Obama’s Commerce Secretary visits Cuba

Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Commerce of the United States. Photo: telesurtv.net
Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Commerce of the United States. Photo: telesurtv.net

HAVANA TIMES – US Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, begins a two-day visit to Cuba on Tuesday framed in the historic rapprochement between the two countries, reported dpa news.

Pritzker, the second cabinet member of Barack Obama to visit the Caribbean island, will meet in Havana with the Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment Rodrigo Malmierca.

The US Secretary of Commerce is also scheduled to visit today the port of Mariel, located about 40 kilometers west of Havana. The government of Raul Castro has created around Mariel a “special economic zone” with which seeks to promote the arrival of foreign capital to revive its economy.

Pritzker will also inaugurate a meeting at ministerial level between officials of the US Departments of Treasury, Commerce and various government ministries of the island, said the Cuban Foreign Ministry.

The purpose of the meeting is “to exchange on the scope and limitations of the measures recently adopted by the US government” to ease the embargo on Cuba, according to the statement issued by the Foreign Ministry in Havana.

The Obama administration announced in mid-September further measures to ease trade and economic sanctions to the island. Some aspects of the embargo had been relaxed in January, shortly after the two countries announced the bilateral thaw.

According to the US government, the new measures give more opportunities for trade with Cuba to US companies in sectors such as telecommunications and Internet services, and seeks to support the emerging private sector on the Island.

The embargo that Washington imposed on Cuba in 1962 can only be lifted by the US Congress, where the Republican majority opposes the lifting of sanctions.

Cuba and the United States promoted a rapprochement in several areas following the sudden thaw announced in December 2014.

The Obama administration says its new policy toward Cuba seeks to promote greater changes on the island after decades of a failed policy of isolation, while the government of Raul Castro has been trying for years to attract more foreign investment as part of the economic opening market on the island.

Pritzker will conclude her visit to Cuba on Wednesday. The Secretary of Commerce comes to the island nearly two months after Secretary of State John Kerry was in Havana on a historic visit to reopen the US embassy, closed for more than 54 years.

3 thoughts on “Obama’s Commerce Secretary visits Cuba

  • The new embargo relaxation measures will require action on Cuban side to have any meaning.

  • I cannot imagine a better choice to deal with the corrupt Castro mafia than Penny Pritzker, Obama campaign bundler, slum-lord & a paid-in-full member of the corrupt Chicago political establishment. She’s sure to make some good profit for her hotel empire.

    I never cease to be stunned at the hypocrisy of those who heap praise upon the new US policy of economic engagement with Cuba. They’re in it for the money & they don’t give a fig for the human rights of the Cuban people. Pritzker is emblematic of the cynicism.

  • “…. and seeks to support the emerging private sector on the Island.” Every time I read this oft-repeated sentence by those who hope to justify their pro-normalization intentions, I can’t help but be amazed. That “emerging private sector” they are referring to, under current Castro law, can’t engage in direct business relations with foreign-owned businesses. So how exactly are they being supported?

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