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Monday, July 24, 2006 By: Juan Paxety
Don't lend money to a broke country
Here's why folks with a half-grain of sense know we should not be trading with Cuba - and particularly not be extending the country credit at the folks at the US-Cuba Trade Association want to do. fidel doesn't pay his debts, as shown by this study courtesy of Net For Cuba.
Issue 20 - March 2006
Cuba Facts is an ongoing series of succinct fact sheets on various topics, including, but not limited to, political structure, health, economy, education, nutrition, labor, business, foreign investment, and demographics, published and updated on a regular basis by the Cuba Transition Project staff.
Castro's Creditors - Hard Currency Debt, 2005
Creditors (by country)
Debts (in U.S. dollars)
United Kingdom 
Russia (post-Soviet) 
Czech Republic 
Panama (Colon Free Zone) 
Trinidad & Tobago 
Undisclosed Foreign Financing 
15.438 billion (est.)
Non-Convertible Debt (Soviet-Era)
Creditors (by country)
Debts (in Transferable Rubles)
22.069 billion (est.)
1. Includes an estimated US$1.932 billion in long-term financing and/or unpaid oil deliveries from late 2000 through 2004, and a projected US$1.6 billion in deferred payments on 98,000 bpd (at a market value of US$45 per barrel) in 2005. Cf. Alexei Barrionuevo and José de Córdoba, “For Aging Castro, Chavez Emerges as a Vital Crutch,” The Wall Street Journal, 2 February 2004; Marianna Párraga, "Cuba acumula deuda de US$891 millones con Venezuela," Caracas, El Universal, 14 January 2004; M. Párraga, “Cuba recibe despachos adicionales de petróleo,” Caracas, El Universal, 22 February 2005, http://www.el-universal.com/2005/02/22/eco_art_22166F.shtml; M. Párraga, “Petrocaribe captará inversión del holding,” Caracas, El Universal, 2 July 2005, http://economia.eluniversal.com/2005/07/02/eco_art_02201A.shtml; Danna Harman, “Chavez seeks influence with oil diplomacy,” The Christian Science Monitor, 25 August 2005, http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0825/p01s04-woam.html.
2. Cuba’s long-term debt to Japan is composed of approximately 245.86 billion yen in banking, commercial, and government-to-government debt dating from the 1970s. In 1998, and again in 2002 in order to avoid default, Cuba refinanced 100 billion yen in commercial debt with 182 Japanese suppliers. A separate accord, signed in 1999, allowed Havana to reschedule its short-term debt of 12 billion yen (some US$109 million) to the Japanese government. According to an anonymous Japanese diplomat cited by the foreign press in Cuba, in 2004 the Cuban government made a payment of US$50 million toward the principal of its aforementioned short-term debt with Tokyo. As of June 2005, the Basel, Switzerland-based Bank for International Settlements reported US$94 million in new, additional short-term financing to Cuba by Japanese banks. Cf. Dalia Acosta, “Cuba-Japan: Brilliant Coup Behind Paris Club’s Back,” Inter Press Service, Havana, 26 March 1998; Kyodo/Associated Press, “Japan accepts terms for deferring Cuba’s debt repayment,” Havana, 24 November 1999; Marc Frank, “Cuba repays some official debt as economy picks up,” Reuters, Havana, 26 April 2004; Bank for International Settlements, BIS Preliminary International Banking Statistics, Second Quarter 2005, Oct. 2005, pp. 70-71, http://www.bis.org/publ/qtrpdf/rpsr0510.pdf#page=2, hereinafter BIS Preliminary Statistics, Oct. 2005.
3. See Reuters, “Cuba, Argentina restore full ties, discuss debt,” Havana, 13 October 2003. The Cuban government has requested 75% forgiveness, as well as partial repayment in kind on the remainder, of its bilateral debt with Buenos Aires, which dates from the 1970s and early 1980s. See also Natasha Niebieskikwiat, “Cuba busca una quita del 75% de su deuda con la Argentina,” Clarín, Buenos Aires, 14 October 2003.
4. Long-term Cuban debt claimed by the government of France stands at approximately 689 million euros. (Cf. French Senate report, “Principales créances et dettes globales et APD de la France sur les Etats étrangers au 31 décembre 2003,” in Bienvenue au Sénat, “Project de loi de finances pour 2005,” http://www.senat.fr/rap/l04-074-302/l04-074-30250.html. The total figure also encompasses a separate short-term debt of US$92 million in unpaid COFACE trade credits (Cf. French Economic Mission in Havana, “Bilan du commerce France-Cuba 2004,” March 2005, http://www.missioneco.org/cuba/documents_new.asp?V=1_PDF_104111). Lastly, the total known debt also includes US$464 million in short-term financing provided by French banks as of June 2005 (Cf. BIS Preliminary Statistics, October 2005).
5. In addition to a previous US$682 million in trade and investment financing, in late 2004 China disclosed the existence of, and refinanced, approximately $38 million in trade credits dating from 1990-1994; issued a new commercial loan estimated at US$150 million for the acquisition of a million TV sets by Cuba; and announced a US$500 million investment financed by Chinese loans in a new Sino-Cuban nickel mining joint venture in eastern Cuba. Cf. Carmelo Mesa-Lago, The Cuban Economy Today: Salvation or Damnation? (Cuba Transition Project, Univ. of Miami, 2005) p. 11; Mark Frank, “China’s Cuba business takes big leap forward,” Havana, Reuters, 11 April 2001 (which cites a previous US$210 loan granted in 2000); BBC News, “China to lend Cuba $400m,” Havana, 13 April 2001; “China Offer 400 Million Dollars in Loans to Cuba,” Beijing, People’s Daily, 14 April 2001. Feliberto Carrié, “El Banco de Shanghai concede a Cuba un crédito por 72 millones de dólares para la construcción de un hotel,” Europa Press, Havana, 4 October 2002.
6. Figure includes 791 million euros (US$954 million) in public long-term debt and US$302 million in current private financing by Spanish lenders. Cf. data compiled by Spanish NGO, Observatorio de la Deuda en la Globalización, “Los 10 más endeudados con el Estado Español,” http://www.debtwatch.org/cast/observatorios/govesp/html_grafiques/los10.htm; BIS Preliminary Statistics, Oct. 2005; I. J. Domingo, “Cuba busca elevar su capacidad financiera con canje de deuda por inversión española,” Expansión, Madrid, 18 Nov. 2002.
7. Cf. Notimex, “Presenta Cuba propuesta a México para saldar deuda con Bancomext,” New York, 25 September 2004, http://www.cubanet.org/CNews/y04/sep04/27o4.htm, which cites as its source for the US$480 million figure a Mexico-Cuba inter-parliamentary gathering held in Havana in late September 2004. Mexico expects to recover in 2006 about 41 million euros from Cuban assets in Europe following favorable rulings in Italian courts, which would reduce the debt correspondingly. Cf. Nancy Flores, “En la recta final, pleito con Cuba,” Revista Fortuna (Mexico), June 2005, http://revistafortuna.com.mx/opciones/archivo/2005/junio/html/nglobales/cuba.htm.
8. Italian claims consist of approximately 227 million euros owed by Cuba to SACE (Italy’s government-backed trade financing agency), as per SACE’s most recent annual report, SACE: Rapporto Annuale 2004, pp. 60-61, http://www.sace.it/ita/news/detail.aspx?TRS_ID=1614000&ID=2806. Separately, the Banca d’Italia, Italy’s central bank, revealed upon request the existence of a debt of 22 million euros owed to the Italian government as of 2004. In addition, Italy-based banks reported US$113 million in current short-term loans to Cuba as of June 2005 (Cf. BIS Preliminary Statistics, October 2005).
9. Cuba’s obligations to the United Kingdom include a 100-million pound medium-term debt to government-backed Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD) and 90 million pounds to British companies (Cf. Reuters, “UK to reopen Cuba credit cover after debt deal,” London, 23 September 1999). UK-based lending institutions also reported US$29 million in current short-term financing to Cuba as of June 2005 (Cf. BIS Preliminary Statistics, October 2005).
10. In May 2000, Cuba and Germany signed a debt restructuring agreement, including both formerly East as well as West German claims, for repayment of 230 million German marks (valued at US$115 million). Cf. EFE, “Berlín y La Habana firman acuerdo renegociación de deuda,” Berlin, 26 May 2000. See also German Federal Foreign Office, “Relations between Cuba and Germany,” http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/www/en/laenderinfos/laender/laender_ausgabe_html?type_id=14&land_id=89#2. In addition, the figure includes US$210 million in short-term financing to Cuba by German banks as of June 2005 (Cf. BIS Preliminary Statistics, October 2005).
11. The debt represents short-term financing provided to Cuba by Netherlands-based banking institutions as of June 2005 (Cf. BIS Preliminary Statistics, October 2005).
12. Figure includes a US$161-million debt in hard currency due to unpaid trade credits for the import of Russian goods from 1990 to 2005, as part of a Russo-Cuban intergovernmental agreement. (Cf. Interfax, “Russia, Cuba to discuss debt in Dec.,” Moscow, 2 December 2003; RIA Novosti, “Russian government passes draft agreement on Cuban debt,” Moscow, 15 Sept. 2005). In addition, Moscow granted the Cuban government a US$85-million loan in 2004, repayable over nine years, in order to finance the sale of two Il-96-300 executive aircraft for use by Fidel Castro and the senior Cuban leadership (Cf. MosNews, “Cuba to buy VIP Russian jets for $100M,” Moscow, 13 July 2004).
13. Cuba’s debt to the former Czechoslovakia, and assumed by the Czech Republic, has been reported in convertible currency [5.8 billion Czech korunas]. Cf. Pablo Alfonso, “Crisis checa puede estar cerca del fin,” El Nuevo Herald, 31 January 2001.
14. The Cuban and Belgian governments negotiated a restructuring accord in 2000 on the short-term portion (17.35 million euros) of Havana’s 171-million euro debt to Brussels. (Cf. EFE, “Bruselas y La Habana renegocian deuda bilateral,” Brussels, 30 March 2000) In addition, Belgian lenders held US$15 million in short-term Cuban debt as of June 2005 (Cf. BIS Preliminary Statistics, Oct. 2005).
15. In 2003, Panamanian trading companies based in the Colon Free Zone exported more than US$208 million in primarily third-country goods to Cuba. Suppliers and banks, including subsidiaries of foreign-based institutions, have reported Cuban state-owned enterprises to owe over US$200 million in financed purchases (Cf. Dustin Guerra, “Cubanos adeudan 200 millones de dólares a ZLC,” Panama, La Prensa, 25 August 2004).
16. Cuba’s official commercial debt in arrears to the Canadian government’s export financing agency, Export Development Canada (EDC), stood at C$114 million (US$97 million) as of Sept. 2005. Cf. Canadian govt.’s Cuba Fact Sheet, September 2005, [http://www.infoexport.gc.ca/ie-en/DisplayDocument.jsp?did=213&gid=193]. BIS statistics reveal no current short-term financing to Cuba by Canada-based banks as of June 2005 (Cf. BIS Preliminary Statistics, October 2005).
17. The debt represents current short-term financing provided by Austria-based institutions as of June 2005 (Cf. BIS Preliminary Statistics, October 2005).
18. See Mireya Castañeda, “Cuba-Brazil cooperation diversifies,” Havana, Granma Internacional, September 29, 2003, [http://www.granma.cu/ingles/2003/septiembre03/lun29/lula3.html].
19. Trinidad-based Republic Bank Ltd. is financing about US$30 million a year in imports for Cuban state-owned enterprises. Cf. Larry Luxner, “Trinidad & Tobago seeks to expand links with Cuba,” CubaNews, October 2003, p. 10.
20. As reported by the press, Cuba has a longstanding debt of US$30 million with Uruguay. Cf. “Cuba desafía a Uruguay a romper relaciones diplomáticas,” Notimex, Havana, 23 April 2002.
21. Figure represents current short-term financing by Sweden-based banks to Cuba as of June 2005 (Cf. BIS Preliminary Statistics, October 2005).
22. As of June 2005, BIS statistics reveal only US$2 (two) million in current short-term financing to the Cuban government by Swiss lenders (Cf. BIS Preliminary Statistics, October 2005).
23. Figure represents other current short-term financing to Cuba as of June 2005 by banks of non-disclosed nationality (Cf. BIS Preliminary Statistics, October 2005, pp. 70-71).
24. Debt owed in transferable rubles to the former USSR and now assumed by Russia. No repayment accords have been reached with Russia or any other former communist state in Eastern Europe. In response to Moscow’s insistence on transferable-ruble debt negotiations with Havana in the context of the island’s hard-currency debts to other Paris Club creditors, the Cuban government has refused to countenance any multilateral arrangements and presented claims for damages due to defunct accords with the former Soviet Union. Cf. “The Infamous Paragraph,” (official editorial by the Cuban government on disputes, including the bilateral debt, with the Russian government), Havana, Granma Internacional, 27 Oct. 2001, http://www.granma.cu/documento/ingles01/041-i.html. Cuba’s total Soviet-era transferable ruble debts to Russia and Eastern European states have been estimated at US$26.7 billion. Cf. Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Market, Socialist and Mixed Economies: Comparative Policy and Performance: Chile, Cuba, and Costa Rica (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), pp. 380-381. See also Oscar Espinosa Chepe, “Crece la deuda externa cubana,” Cubanet, Havana, 6 February 2003, http://pscuba.org/articulos/crece.htm.
25. As of the end of 2001, Cuba’s Soviet-era debt to Romania in transferable rubles, including unpaid interest, had reached approximately 951 million, making the island one of Romania’s top debtors. Cf. National Bank of Romania, Balance of Payments 2001 report, at http://www.bnro.ro/def_en.htm.
26. As per Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release, “Hungary Seeks Closer Ties with Latin America,” Budapest, 8 May 1997. Cf. http://www.undp.org/missions/hungary/0509hula.htm.
27. Debt figure provided upon request by Poland’s embassy in Havana. According to Polish officials, the Cuban government has refused to discuss renegotiating the transferable ruble debt.
The CTP can be contacted at P.O. Box 248174, Coral Gables, Florida 33124-3010, Tel: 305-284-CUBA (2822), Fax: 305-284-4875, and by email at [email protected]. The CTP Website is accessible at http://ctp.iccas.miami.edu.
Colaboración de Lila Cañizares