Mariel, Cuba: Part of History and Now Part of Cuba's Future?


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One country, two systems. The formula has worked for China’s business-minded communists. Can it succeed in Cuba?
President Raul Castro’s government is building its own version of a Chinese-style economic zone on the banks of the Mariel Bay, 30 miles west of Havana, where the laws of scientific Marxism will not apply.
Inside a 180-square-mile special economic zone, Cuban planners have envisioned a global capitalist enclave where foreign companies can install manufacturing plants, research centers and operational hubs.
This island within an island will operate on the business principles of globalization — not tropical socialism — and like China’s 1980s reforms, it would offer communist authorities an expedient way to compartmentalize economics and ideology.

The zone would lure foreign businesses with the guarantee of a 10-year tax holiday and virtually unfettered freedom to import raw materials and repatriate profits. The Cuban government began accepting bids from international investors this month.

At the core of the project is a $900 million deep-water port terminal being built by the Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht, primarily with Brazilian government loans. Due to open in January, it is designed to handle the new wave of larger “post-Panamax” ships expected to dominate global commerce when the Panama Canal expansion is completed in 2015.
The town of Mariel (pop. 40,000), a forlorn fishing village coated in a scrim of dust from the local cement plant, is set to become Cuba’s ….
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