The Chamber of Commerce of the United States (USCC), one of the most powerful groups of political influence from that nation will make a senior trip to Cuba in the coming days, with no details on the exact date.
The goal, according to Diario Las Americas review, is to explore the economic transformations undertaken by the government of Raúl Castro.
Two members of the USCC with links to the Cuba Working Group confirmed that Thomas J. Donohue, president of the organization and supporter of lifting the U.S. blockade of the island, will chair the delegation.
A businessman who requested anonymity ensures that the event “will have much impact in Washington.”
He said that in addition to Donohue, the delegation would consist of two heavyweights of American business: Steve Van Andel, director of the board of the conglomerate Amway and current vice president of the USCC, and Patricia A. Woertz, president of Archer Daniel Midland (ADM).
This trip takes place in the context of the implementation of the Special Area Development Mariel (ZEDM) and before the entry into force of the Law on Foreign Investment 118. Also, a few days after the release of an open letter to President Obama, signed by forty personalities from various fields, which emphasis on the business sector. It is no coincidence, moreover, that those who accompany Donohue are representing corporations linked to two outbreaks of economic changes in process: the self-employed sector and agricultural production.
According to sources, is expected they will hold meetings with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez; Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, and Orlando Hernandez Guillen, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Cuba, plus a tour of the ZEDM.
Donohue is a fervent supporter of radically changing the map of relations between Washington and Havana by lifting restrictions on U.S. travel and blockade of the island.
“In the interests of the two countries, it is time to turn the page … The embargo has failed and we are in times of change,” he said in 2009 during a hearing before the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.
This will be the first visit of the top executives of the USCC in over ten years. In July 1999, according to Diario Las Americas, during a three day stay in Havana, Donohue met with Cuban ministers and Fidel Castro.
The USCC represents the interests of more than 300,000 business as direct partners and about 3 million businesses through its affiliates in state and local chambers. With a budget of 136 million USD per year (higher than all other groups lobbying in Washington), is the main stronghold of lobbying in the US Congress.