The American businessmen Mark Baum and Jorge Ignacio Fernández advocated this Tuesday for a greater exchange between United States and Cubaduring a meeting held at the island’s Chamber of Commerce.
Baum, senior vice president of the major North American association The Food Industry Association (FMI)and Fernández, president of the humanitarian organization Hope for Cubaare currently on a working visit to the island, whose first activity was a dialogue with Cuban businessmen.
Held at the headquarters of the Cuban Chamber of Commerce (CCC), in Havana, the meeting brought together representatives of state companies and private MSMEs, with whom the visitors talked about their work and business possibilities and other links in the future, in order to advance bilateral relations.
Next, the US businessmen offered statements to the press, accompanied by Antonio Carricarte, president of the CCC, in which they confirmed their willingness to strengthen relations with their Cuban colleagues.
Baum, who is also the IMF’s Director of Collaboration, one of the largest commercial associations in the grocery retail sector in the United States, explained that his visit aims to learn first-hand about the reality of Cuba and its new economic scenario, seeking to explore business opportunities and other exchanges with the island. .
With more than 30 years of experience in the consumer packaged goods industry, the businessman pointed out that the existence of a growing private sector on the island opens up opportunities for bilateral exchange, despite Washington’s sanctions against Cuba, and that said Opportunities do not only include the commercial field, but also in science, education, cooperation and donations.
For his part, Fernández, who is of Cuban origin and already has a well-known work in favor of rapprochement between the two countries, confirmed the intention of his organization to establish bridges with Cuba and connect businessmen from both countries for the benefit of relations bilateral agreements and the Cuban people, especially in areas such as food, renewable energy, science and medicine.
The also CEO of Hope for Cuba lamented the effects and obstacles derived from the United States embargo and, in particular, the inclusion of the island in the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, which he disagreed with.
However, he advocated taking advantage of the limited existing opportunities for trade and other exchanges between the two countries, based on the steps taken so far by the Biden administration, and he was optimistic about a greater rapprochement in the future.
Meanwhile, Carricarte thanked the visit of both businessmen and highlighted the existing possibilities for bilateral exchange based on the country’s new economic scenario. In particular, he referred to the potential for exporting Cuban products to the United States, such as honey, coal, and coffee.
Baum and Fernández’s visit to Cuba will continue in the coming days, and other meetings with Cuban businessmen and authorities are planned as part of it.
In addition, at the press conference it was explained that this visit is part of a work program that includes upcoming meetings and business trips between the two countries. It also foresees the organization, next year, of a Cuba-United States business forum in Washington.
The trip of both American businessmen to Cuba takes place in a context marked by statements and petitions to the Joe Biden government on Cuba, by various entities and personalities from the United States.
this same week, the Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA), the Cuba Study Group (CSG) and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) they asked the President Joe Biden that it comply with all the changes towards Cuba announced last year and take new measures to alleviate the current crisis that the island is going through.
In a joint statementthe three organizations recalled the announced measures by Biden in May 2022, which they considered “an important moment in the evolution of relations” between the two countries, but, at the same time, they asked their government for “additional ones that can help improve the humanitarian situation on the island ”.
This Monday’s petition joins other recent pronouncements on the subject, such as the one issued last month by Rep. Jim McGovern and former Sen. Patrick Leahy, and others from American businessmen, academics, activists, local governments, and religious groups.
also in may almost 9,000 Cuban and American businessmen they sent Biden a set of petitions related to US policy toward Cuba. Among these, the main demand was to remove the island from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism.