Guess who’s bankrolling the Castro regime?

The folks at the Cuba Transition Project at the University of Miami send along this interesting report (not yet online). Turns out it's not so much Hugo Chávez or Hu Jintao that are underwriting the Castro government, but European financiers: From processing Havana's secretive international business transactions to providing lucrative high-interest loans to the Cuban ...

The folks at the Cuba Transition Project at the University of Miami send along this interesting report (not yet online). Turns out it's not so much Hugo Chávez or Hu Jintao that are underwriting the Castro government, but European financiers:

From processing Havana's secretive international business transactions to providing lucrative high-interest loans to the Cuban government, European Union-based institutions have collectively bankrolled the Castro regime since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Today, quietly and behind the scenes, more hard currency flows in and out Cuba via European financial capitals than through Beijing or Caracas. While Venezuela's and China's multi-billion dollar credit lines for Cuba have done much to offset the loss of Soviet-era subsidies, such politically-driven deals are largely in the form of in-kind aid (oil and refined fuels from Venezuela and "soft" trade credits from China for the purchase of Chinese-made goods) rather than in convertible currency.

The folks at the Cuba Transition Project at the University of Miami send along this interesting report (not yet online). Turns out it's not so much Hugo Chávez or Hu Jintao that are underwriting the Castro government, but European financiers:

From processing Havana's secretive international business transactions to providing lucrative high-interest loans to the Cuban government, European Union-based institutions have collectively bankrolled the Castro regime since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Today, quietly and behind the scenes, more hard currency flows in and out Cuba via European financial capitals than through Beijing or Caracas. While Venezuela's and China's multi-billion dollar credit lines for Cuba have done much to offset the loss of Soviet-era subsidies, such politically-driven deals are largely in the form of in-kind aid (oil and refined fuels from Venezuela and "soft" trade credits from China for the purchase of Chinese-made goods) rather than in convertible currency.

With more than US$1.6 billion in hard credit lines from European lenders, Cuban authorities have been able to conduct strategic international transactions ranging from policy-motivated imports of agricultural products from U.S. Congressional farm districts to financing the expansion of the island's nickel industry, in turn a major source of foreign revenue for the regime.

And Spain, as you might expect, is leading the way: 

European capital also sustains foreign direct investment. Of 185 foreign-financed joint ventures with the Cuban government, two-thirds originate in Europe. The strong correlation between foreign financing and foreign investment is best exemplified by Spain's leading role in the Cuban economy. Home to nearly 40 percent of all joint ventures currently operating in the island, Spanish lenders are also the largest source of private capital — upwards of US$581 million — for the Castro regime.

It turns out also that the Netherlands and Spain are among Cuba's largest export markets.

I have to say, though, that I'm underwhelmed by the amounts here. $1.6 billion simply isn't a lot of money, and $581 million is even less impressive. Of course, nothing could be sillier than the unilateral U.S. embargo, which has failed to accomplish anything other than making Cubans worse off. If even a few hundred mil from the Europeans can prop up the Castro brothers, what's the point?

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