By KIRTHANA SASITHARAN, THE HURRIYET DAILY NEWS
News arrived that Venezuela violated their agreement with Cuba. The Cuban Council of Ministers discussed the outcome of the lack of support from Venezuela. Venezuela has removed their oil from Cuba, despite the ALBA agreement still being in place. This violation of obliged integration within Latin America and the Caribbean over social, political, and economic issues extends between Venezuela and Cuba only, while the Venezuelan relationship between other countries seems to remain stable. The nations are trying to rekindle diplomatic relations, however the formalized trade, investment, and tourism between these nations requires further negotiations.
The Minister of Economy was quick to point out the very bad economic situation that has arisen in Cuba. The minister firmly contended that regional bodies should focus on Cuba, rather than the US. However, the Minister of Economy was not the only one to suspect alliances with the US would cause an inbound retrieval of support by Venezuela. The Minister of Finance and Prices was quick to mention that Venezuela’s lack of support for Cuba must be a “clear attempt to isolate Cuba” and claimed this was a result of the US’s actions. The Minister of Finance suggested that Cuba should fight back against this isolation.
While addressing the economic issues present in Cuba, many ministers presented directives and suggestions to increase tourism within Cuba. This would allow Cuba to take action into their own hands. The Minister of Foreign Affairs mentioned Cuba should be taking action to invest in tourism. The directive presented by the minister mentioned “Seeking foreign investment” and reaching out to cruise lines to make stops near Cuba. The Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that this would provide investments in Cuba’s ports.
The Minister of Tourism mentioned the issue regarding the Cuban peso and the convertible peso, and how these two forms of currency complicate the economy, putting Cuba a step behind in taking charge of their economy. This could be due to the fact that both currencies are not exchangeable in foreign markets. The Minister of Industry suggested that a unified currency needs to be implemented but pushed the council to acknowledge that they need to work towards a specific goal in regards to increasing tourism, and they need to work now.
Beyond the suggestions presented by the Council, the Minister of Justice shed light on the issue of the threat of the black market. The Minister believed that it was important for the council to crack down on the black market if Cuba wanted to see substantial economic change.
The Cuban Council of Ministers are looking to discuss more than the issue at hand as the lack of Venezuelan support has meant that the Ministers have more on their plate than anticipated.