Selling Cuba’s Pig in a poke

No one knows better than pro-Castro pundits and “Cuba Experts” how hard it is to sell the notion that doing business with the criminal Castro dictatorship is a good thing. But bless their hearts, they dutifully keep trying to sell us that Cuban pig in a poke.

Buried at the almost very end of an article in Forbes salivating over Castro’s Cuba as the next possible “emerging market”:

[…] Chilly Business Climate

Cuba has potential opportunities for growth in a number of sectors, including tourism, high-value agriculture and even natural resources, but conducting business there is still challenging, noted Richard E. Feinberg in a Brookings Institution report titled ‘The New Cuban Economy: What Role Foreign Investment?”“In principle, Cuba’s foreign investment laws offer favorable conditions and … some JVs [joint ventures] are successfully navigating the Cuban economic system. But the government has been keeping many suitors waiting for the final green light.”

He said foreign investors encounter an “elastic legal framework” and a “chilly business climate,” but explains that there are some benefits in Cuba’s socialist economy for foreign companies: “Once admitted, JVs are often granted monopolies, or dominant market shares, in key market segments … The Cuban state restricts market entry by other foreign competitors or by national enterprises.”

In the growing tourism sector, many European and Canadian companies are going ahead with large hotel and golf developments — despite some high-profile cases in which foreign executives have ended up in jail — because they believe getting in from the ground up will pay off hugely when the country opens up for U.S. tourists.

Yes, Cuba may be ruled by a fickle totalitarian dictatorship that can turn on you at any moment, but think of the benefits! The government can provide you with highly profitable  monopolies, eliminating your competitors (by imprisoning them) and giving you exclusive access to a captive (in the literal sense of the word) audience.  This is apparently the “free trade” and “open markets” we keep hearing about.

So go ahead, name your price for that Cuban pig in a poke. What can go wrong?