[Marxism] Venezuelan Deal Helps Cuba Get Trade Balanced

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Mon Mar 28 22:47:42 MST 2005

March 28, 2005 10:44 p.m. EST 	 
Venezuelan Deal Helps Cuba Get Trade Balanced

Reuters March 28, 2005 10:44 p.m.

HAVANA -- Cuba's balance of payments was out of the red for
the first time in a decade in 2004, thanks to stronger
nickel exports, tourism and an oil-barter deal with
Venezuela, the head of the Central Bank of Cuba said.

The improved outlook has allowed Cuba to revalue its two
currencies in a move to reduce the purchasing-power gap
between Cubans who have access to hard currency and those
who don't, central-bank chief Francisco Soberon said in an

Mr. Soberon gave no figures, and Cuba hasn't published
balance-of-payments data for three years. The United
Nations Economic Commission for Latin America reported
Cuban deficits of $296 million in 2002 and $155 million in
2003, with a preliminary deficit of $100 million for last

Cuba has struggled with a bankrupt socialist economy since
the demise of the Soviet Union deprived it of billions of
dollars of subsidies in 1991.

Mr. Soberon said all important sectors of the economy, with
the exception of the collapsed sugar industry, have
strengthened. He noted that the nickel industry has enjoyed
a windfall from the trebling of world prices over the past
three years. Economists estimate nickel exports generated
$800 million last year.

A key factor in the government's optimism is a December
agreement with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, in which
his oil-rich nation began to pay for medical services
provided by some 30,000 Cuban doctors working in Venezuelan
slums, Mr. Soberon said. While the figures are a state
secret, analysts believe the services are covering a
substantial part of Cuba's $1 billion annual oil-import
bill, mainly supplied by Venezuela under a generous 53,000
barrel-per-day supply deal.

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