Cuba: Solidarity with Cristina, despite offshore drilling
Cuba supports Argentina—should Repsol worry?
Cuba voiced its ‘full solidarity’ with Argentina this week in that country’s move to nationalise YPF, the former Argentine state oil company currently held by Spanish oil company Repsol. In an announcement via the television program Noticiero Nacional de Televisión on Thursday, the Ministry of Foreign Relations said Argentina has ‘the right to exercise full sovereignty over its national resources, including its hydrocarbons industry.’
The announcement also accused Repsol of buying YPF for less than its real value.
Since February, Repsol has been leading exploration efforts in the Cuban Gulf of Mexico, where experts believe there may be up to 20 billion barrels of oil. The company has already spent millions of dollars on those efforts.
In light of these investments by Repsol in Cuba, dissident economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe called the government’s pledge of solidarity with Argentina ‘unwise’ adding that it ‘harms national development’ by potentially alienating foreign investors. ‘Repsol must have received this news with much concern,’ Espinosa Chepe told AFP.
Cuba has a history of nationalising properties, especially after the Revolution. Many have gone unreimbursed.
The Vice Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment Antonio Carricarte said he did not believe the announcement would affect Repsol’s operations.
Catholic church hosts discussion on migration
In light of last week’s announcement that the Cuban government is prepared to undertake migratory reform, the Cuban Catholic Church this week hosted a discussion among academics on the topic this week. The discussion, titled ‘Un dialogo entre cubanos’ (‘A dialogue amongst Cubans,’) brought together 60 academics from Cuba and abroad to address the subject of migration.
Topics addressed included the role of the Cuban diaspora in the Cuban economy, and opportunities for future cooperation between Cubans on the island and Cuban-Americans. The event was hosted by the Archdiocese of Havana, the Cuban Catholic magazine Palabra Nueva, and Florida International University in Miami.
Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá, president of the Christian Liberation Movement criticized the event for excluding dissident Cuban intellectuals, and for not questioning government policy. He accused the Catholic Church of ‘not only looking down on the opposition, but denying its existence.’
Cuba hosts its first Harley Davidson festival
Cuban owners of Harley Davidsons, or ‘Harlistas’ in local dialect, held their first ever convention this past weekend in the Cuban coastal resort of Varadero. The convention included a show, riding competitions, and exchange of tips on maintenance.
Many of the American-made motorcycles predate the 1959 Revolution, and their maintenance has suffered due to the US embargo. As opposed to Harley Davidson enthusiasts elsewhere in the world, many Cuban Harlistas use their motorcycles for everyday transport.
The organizers voiced enthusiasm for the event, and hoped to repeat it next year perhaps with the participation of foreign Harlistas as well.