This week is a time of celebration in Cuba for the opening of the new port of Mariel, a huge development funded with considerable help from Brazil. The Cuban government hopes that the port will ignite the country’s floundering economy. At the ribbon cutting, Raúl Castro extolled the virtues the port’s ability to support the newest and largest ships in the world. The U.S. embargo continues to stymie the growth of the economy, and it remains an open question whether its provisions, which prohibit any ship that calls on a Cuban port from visiting an American port within six months, will affect how well the new port will fare.
At the time of the official ceremonies, there was only one ship in port—a U.S. ship delivering chickens. Food is exempt from the embargo and its import is limited only by the fact that it must be paid for in cash. I wonder if Raúl noticed the Stars and Stripes flying from the ships masthead, and if he noted the irony.