Mauricio Claver-Carone, editor of Capitol Hill Cubans, gave a terrific speech yesterday at the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association (PRMA) on “Reform and Change in the Cuban Political Economy in 2013”. Money quote:
In 2000, there were 400 foreign companies operating in Cuba through minority joint ventures with the Castro regime, which is sadly the only permissible legal vehicle for foreign companies to invest in Cuba. Today, there are only 190 left.
In the last few years, European investors have seen over $1 billion arbitrarily frozen in Cuban banks by the government.
As Reuters reported, “the Communist-run nation failed to make some debt payments on schedule beginning in 2008, and then froze up to $1 billion in the accounts of foreign suppliers by the start of 2009.”
Moreover, during this time, the CEOs of various foreign companies with extensive business dealings with the Cuban government have been arrested. Some are still sitting in jail — without charges.
Cy Tokmakjian of Canada’s Tokmakjian Group was arrested in September 2011, when his Havana office was unexpectedly raided and its assets confiscated. Nearly two years later, Tokmakjian has yet to be charged with anything.
Sarkis Yacoubian of Canada’s Tri-Star Caribbean was given a 9-year sentence despite months of interrogations in which he admitted to everything his interrogators desired – and then some.
Amado Fahkre and Stephen Purvis of Britain’s Coral Capital fared a bit better. Fahkre was arrested in October 2011 and Purvis in March 2012. Just last month, they were sentenced to time served and allowed to return to London.
Let me stress that these were not casual investors. They these were some of Cuba’s biggest business partners, having each invested hundreds of millions, with direct access to the highest officials. This has all been confiscated now.
Claver-Carone also detailed the human rights and “economic reforms” situations. Read the whole speech here.