Monday, June 06, 2005

Teapot Dome, Ponzi, Skilling/Lay, Castro

Or, How To Lose All Your Shekels In One Easy Word: Cuba! Viva La Revolución. Castro and his flacks and hacks are now busily screwing foreign investors who plunked down their shekels in "can't miss" golden business opportunities in Cuber. Ever heard of "once burned - twice shy"? Apparently there are many gullible investors who have never heard of or have studiously ignored that old saw. In 2001, Castro, after having opened Cuber's arms to foreign real estate investors, decreed that the foreign property owners could not sell, ever, their real estate holdings. This effectively reduced the value of their investments to, uh, approximately zero, if my calculations are correct. Now comes 2005 (that's only 4 years later, if my calculations are correct) and the Cuberians are doing it again.
But Castro has been moving to cut back the autonomy granted to state-run companies to do business with outside investors and is restoring central control over trade, Reuters reports.

"Fidel thinks he does not need small joint ventures anymore, so they are only keeping the big ones in strategic sectors such as telecommunications," said one investor who had to abandon a business in Cuba after 12 years.

"I don't think they ever wanted us here," said the manager of a European firm that is pulling out after 10 years in Cuba.

"They always tried to get the most money, machinery and knowledge they could out of us while giving little in return. They owe us millions, but we are leaving mainly because of their attitude, the way they treated us."

According to Reuters, "Western embassies report increasing complaints from their nationals whose businesses were liquidated without any guarantee they would be compensated."

Of the 313 cooperative production ventures operating in Cuba in 2003, only 133 remained at the beginning of 2005 - and most of them would be closed, said a source with Cuba's Foreign Investment and Economic Cooperation Ministry.
The article attributes Castro's crummy new attitude to the fact that he is receiving free oil from his chief flunky in South America, Hugo Chavez.

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