President of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States Thomas Donohue (L) meets with Cuban President Raul Castro in Havana on Thursday
HAVANA, Cuba (ACN) -- Thomas Donohue, president of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, expressed on Thursday in Havana his interest in boosting a greater rapprochement between the US business community and Cuba.
As part of his visit to the island, which began on Tuesday, accompanied by other members of his executive, Donahue gave a keynote lecture at the University of Havana, in which he offered his impressions on the change of approach that relations between the two countries demand today.
This is the moment to give the new generations of Cuban and US citizens the opportunity to know each other better, do business and support each other as friends and neighbours, pointed out the businessman, who for years has opposed the economic, commercial and financial embargo Washington has imposed on Cuba for over half a century now.
For many years, the policy has been marked by differences between the two governments and it's time to change that approach, asserted Donohue, in the presence of Rodrigo Malmierca, Cuban minister of foreign trade and investment, and of Gustavo Cobreiro, rector of the University.
In the presence of students and Cuban state and government officials, Donahue stated that the presidency of Barack Obama could create new ways to increase imports and exports between the two nations, in addition to expanding diplomacy and promoting people-to-people exchanges.
Donohue's schedule included a tour of the Mariel special development zone, and the visitor stressed the importance of the zone in the expansion of Cuba's economic bonds with the world, and to understand that direct foreign investment is a powerful tool in the creation of jobs and wealth.
The mission was due to meet with businessmen and officials of the Caribbean nation in search of new business and investment opportunities on the island, and takes place a few days after 44 US personalities asked Obama to ease the blockade.
On Thursday afternoon Donohue met with Cuban President Raul Castro. Accompanying Donohue were Steve Van Handel, president of the board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce and of the Amway Company; Marcel Smits, executive vice-president and financial director of the Cargill Corporation; and Jodi Hanson Bond, vice-president for the Americas of the International Division of the Chamber of Commerce.
Also representing Cuba at the meeting, in which matters of interest for the two nations were discussed, were foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez; Malmierca; and Josefina Vidal, general director for the United States at the ministry of foreign affairs.