Major U.S. companies seek to lock in Cuba deals ahead of Obama visit
AT&T, Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Marriott International are moving to
lock in deals days ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit to Havana and
at a time when further loosening of U.S. restrictions is expected to be
BY NANCY SAN MARTIN
At least three major U.S. companies – AT&T, Starwood Hotels & Resorts
and Marriott International –are moving to lock in deals in Cuba just
days before President Barack Obama is due to visit Havana, a person
familiar with the discussions has confirmed, Reuters reported Monday..
The race to seal lucrative deals could help Obama use his historic March
20-22 trip to showcase what he sees as the benefits of Washington’s
diplomatic opening with the former Cold War foe after decades of
hostility, the news agency reported.
Further loosening of U.S. restrictions is expected to be announced this
week. But even as Obama prepares to unveil further measures to chip away
at decades-old restrictions on trade and travel to Cuba, the
longstanding U.S. economic embargo strictly limits efforts by American
companies to do business on the communist-ruled island.
Even as Obama has called for a full lifting the embargo, that can only
be done by Congress.
According to various news accourts, first reported on Friday by The Wall
Street Journal, AT&T is trying to complete a mobile communications
agreement with Cuba’s state telecoms monopoly Etecsa, while Starwood is
also weighing an announcement, according to the source, who was briefed
by administration and company officials.
ATT declined comment, Reuters reported.
Starwood, however, confirmed that it “has applied for authorization from
the U.S. Treasury Department to operate hotels in Cuba.”
“We see many opportunities for the expansion of our brands into Cuba at
this inflection point, and look forward to building long-term
relationships and welcoming travelers into our hotels in this dynamic
market,” the company stated.
Marriott spokesman Thomas Marder told Reuters: “We are optimistic that
we are going to get a green light soon from the U.S. government to have
hotels under the Marriott flag in Cuba.”
The three companies were first identified by The Wall Street Journal.
Other deals also are underway though no details have been made public.
One deal may involve Major League Baseball, the news agency said.
MLB officials have publicly stated that they have had discussions with
the U.S. and Cuban governments about fining ways to allow big-league
teams to sign Cuban players, who now resort to defecting.
Source: Major U.S. companies seek to lock in Cuba deals ahead of Obama
visit | Miami Herald –