The United States authorized for the first time in six decades an investment in a private business in Cuba, undertaken by John Kavulich, who told the EFE news agency this Wednesday that he has been in contact with “officials of the Joe Biden administration” for almost a year, congresspeople and senators who have allegedly helped bring this operation to fruition.
Kavulich, president of the United States-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, does not give many details about the investment “of up to $25,000,” nor does he give the name of the Cuban business, since he prefers to wait for Cuba to give the go-ahead. He only announced that this business is not related to the government of Miguel Díaz-Canel, that it has been in the service sector for more than five years and shows continuous growth.
The businessman does not want to give names of who his interlocutors have been in the Biden administration. Kavulich said that they were officials from the Biden-Harris administration, including the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Department of Commerce, the Defense Department, the Department of Justice in all areas, as well as with both houses of Congress.
Until now, the United States embargo on Cuba, in force since 1960, prevented this type of investment and, according to Kavulich, it is the first time that this type of license has been approved since the boycott came into force.
No Biden administration official has spoken until now on this issue or on the eventual lifting of the embargo on investments in Cuba.
The investor submitted the license application to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on June 10, 2021 and this agency gave the green light on May 10, 2022.
Kavulich pointed out that his dealings with the White House and Congress date back long before the Biden administration, during which time he has been figuring out whether his investment efforts can be successful.
After formally submitting his application last June, the businessman felt optimistic, but as the months went by he lost hope.
He recalled that he was given contradictory statements and communications in the past two months that shattered all his optimism, and stressed that the final news of the investment’s approval took him completely by surprise.
For Kavulich to be able to invest in this company — which he discovered thanks to a Facebook group — he still needs Cuba’s approval, but the businessman says he is “90% sure” that he will get it.
He stressed that his 90% certainty is not because the Cuban government is enthusiastic, but because it is necessary, and he explained that this need has become more evident with the great blow that the island’s economy received with the pandemic.
Kavulich also noted that his objective in this investment is not to seek “a quick dollar,” but to ease the way for future investors.
He added that his role as chairman of the council and the work that the council has done since 1994 is that if there is a problem, they try to solve it and then they let everyone know what they did. And that is precisely what they are doing here.
For Kavulich, the fact that an investment by a U.S. businessman is allowed on the island may represent a great “potential” for the Cuban private sector.
This Monday, Biden took another step in the opening towards Cuba by announcing a relaxation of the limitations on remittances and flights, among other things, reversing part of the last round of sanctions applied by previous U.S. President Donald Trump.
He concluded by saying that it’s hard not to see a connection — between the two things. They applied for the license on June 10, 2021. The license was issued on May 10, 2022, and six days later, all these other changes were announced. If one plus one equals two, in this case there is no doubt that it is not a coincidence, he said.