The Guardian has a story today entitled, "Welcome to Mariel, Cuba – the new port giving berth to hope."
Here's the gist:
"[C]uba is betting its economic future on one of the biggest development projects in its history – a special free-trade zone that aims to attract foreign investment and, more hopefully, US support, with modern facilities and market-friendly tax breaks.... [O]ne thing is clear: the policy change that could make the biggest difference to Cuba will be decided not in Havana or Mariel, but in Washington."
In other words, the Mariel Special Economic Zone ("Mariel") is simply Castro's latest ruse to have U.S. sanctions lifted.
This is similar to Castro's recent "oil ruse":
Over the last decade, the Castro regime executed its great "oil ruse" -- whereby it seduced a handful of foreign oil companies to purchase concessions and drill for supposed oil riches off Cuba's shores.
Of course, this was never commercially viable, for even if oil was found (which was a long-shot), it would have been too expensive to extract, transport and refine (thanks to U.S. sanctions).
And thus, the intense lobbying campaign unleashed by the regime's D.C. advocates to lift U.S. sanctions based on "lost commercial opportunities"; "environmental concerns"; the "red scare" of China allegedly drilling 45 miles from our shores, etc.
The goal was never about energy production, but to have U.S. sanctions lifted.
None of this materialized and Castro's "oil ruse" is over (despite former U.S. Senator Bob Graham's recent gullibility).
Now Castro's new ruse is Mariel.
With the Mariel, Castro seeks to lure foreign investors to take advantage of Cuban slave labor.
The model for this project is North Korea's Kaesong Industrial Park, a special administrative industrial region of its totalitarian brethren, whereby South Korean companies employ cheap North Korean labor (rather than relocating to China), while providing the Kim regime with an important source of foreign currency.
The difference is that the market for Kaesong's products is the thriving South Korean economy.
But what will be the market for Mariel's products?
Jamaica? Haiti? The Bahamas?
Definitely not Cuba, with its dismal purchasing power.
The answer is: the U.S.
(Moreover, what ship is going to want to dock in Mariel, in order to then be prohibited -- per U.S. sanctions -- from entering a U.S. port for 180 days?)
As The Guardian article noted -- for Mariel to be commercially viable, the U.S. would have to lift sanctions and open its huge consumer market to Cuban slave labor.
Castro's Brazilian financiers have also admitted to this.
So, once again, the lobbying campaign to lift U.S. sanctions will surely ramp up -- for the sake of Castro's economic rescue.
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