US Asks Cuba for Greater Freedom in Private Sector

US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in Havana. Photo:
US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in Havana. Photo: Ladyrene Perez/

HAVANA TIMES — Today, US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker asked for greater freedom for Cuba’s emerging private sector within the context of the new commercial relations between the two countries, DPA reported.

The US government has again relaxed the embargo on Cuba, Pritzker commented during the opening of bilateral “regulatory talks” in Havana that seek to re-establish commercial and economic relations between the two countries after decades of conflict.

The impact had by the United States’ measures, Pritzker underscored, “will be dependent on the Cuban government also taking certain steps to update its regulatory system and reform the economy in ways that support the continued development of a Cuban private sector.”

“To that end, we urge President Castro and his government to make it easier for Cuban citizens to trade and travel more freely, to enjoy the fruits of their labor, to access the Internet, and to be hired directly by foreign companies,” she added.

The US Secretary of Commerce arrived in Cuba on Tuesday, becoming the second member of Barack Obama’s cabinet to visit the country since the two countries re-established diplomatic relations on July 20.

The aim of Pritzker’s visit is to debate issues surrounding the United States’ new economic and commercial policy and to analyze the limitations that continue to be imposed on both countries by the embargo.

The sanctions Washington imposed on the island in the early 60s can only be lifted by the US Congress, but Obama has relaxed a number of restrictions as part of his new Cuba policy, announced in December of 2014.

According to the Obama administration, this rapprochement seeks to promote change in Cuba through talks and cooperation. The socialist island has impelled a gradual economic reform process under the Raul Castro government in recent years.

Around half a million Cubans are no longer on the government payroll, following decades of State economic monopoly. The reforms have primarily benefited private activity in the food and services industries but have not yet reached higher professional spheres.

Foreign companies operating in Cuba – joint ventures in their majority – cannot hire their personnel directly, but are obliged to do so through a State intermediary.

“Specifically, we want to know how the import, export, and distribution of goods works in Cuba,” Pritzker queried.

On Tuesday, the US Secretary of Commerce visited the Mariel Special Development Zone, 25 miles west of Havana, where the Raul Castro government seeks to draw foreign investment through tax prerogatives.

Prietzker later met with Cuban Minister for Foreign Investment Rodrigo Malmierco and announced plans to meet with Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, as well as with Vice-President of the Council of Ministers Ricardo Cabrisas.

5 thoughts on “US Asks Cuba for Greater Freedom in Private Sector

  • Charlotte County Florida utilities, I used to be able to pick up the phone and pay my bill , on the phone punch in few numbers and I was set,
    capitalism creep in , now to use the same service that used for free , an average consumer would have to pay $3.95 which goes in the pockets of someone who knows where and who knows what, this is how the capitalists operate they squeeze the lifeblood of society , all what they needed is somebody on the inside to change the rules and regulations before you know it they’re embezzling $3.95 from just about everybody , in Charlotte County we have about hundred and seventy thousand residents and in the winter season it increased tremendously with all the snow bibs coming down after the first snow falls up north , I don’t have all the numbers or statistics that being said , to pay someone for something that was free is absolutely wrong , there was no problem prior to the set up everything was working fine .

  • Cuba does not have a mechanism to handle private transactions with foreign suppliers. Opening Amazon like services with Fedex and UPS would be a start.

  • Interesting that The Communists in Cuba feel differently than you. They are debasing themselves at the foot of the USA and the mighty dollar trying to get more for their coffers. How sad for you.

  • nidal shehadeh!!Nice “Bad Old USA” rant! And the Cuban people FYI would LOVE a Walmart instead of the Castro oligarchy overpriced chains dear!
    YOUTUBE: DOCUMENTARY/DOCUMENTAL: “Cuba and the Elephants/Cuba y los Elefantes” – Full version w / English Sub-titles: A Look at Cuba, in reality beyond its tourist attractions. A documentary that takes us to reflect on the achievements of the socialist system
    and how truly the common Cuban people live. A production of the Political Institute of Peru for Liberty.

  • things that we need to keep in mind ,first United States government cannot be trusted at any level ,second wherever the u.s. dollar makes an appearance disaster followed , when they say privatization what do they mean by it , does it mean Walmart could open downtown Havana overnight and destroy all the pop and mom businesses for miles around .
    I am NOT against lifting the embargo or progress whatever that means , what I’m saying is to be extremely cautious , you will be dealing with capitalists who have one thing on mind , sucking your life blood every last penny in your pockets , privatization means society becomes a statistic .

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