Por Manuel Cereijo

As a result of years of inadequate investment and neglect of repairs and maintenance, Cuba's infrastructure has significantly deteriorated. The only investment realized in Cuba's infrastructure over the last 25 years has been to support the tourism industry.

Cuba's infrastructure is indeed in a state of serious deterioration. All basic infrastructure, including transportation, energy, telecommunications, housing, ports, bridges, railroads, and water and sewer facilities have suffered, and all such systems are antiquated, unreliable, and incapable of supporting the increased demands associated with an open, consumer-oriented, market economy.

The State of Florida, due to its geographical proximity, and to the large Cuban-American population, will play a vital role in Cuba's reconstruction. In the immediate-term after a change in Cuba to democracy, the State of Florida can assist Cuba and its citizens by facilitating the acquisition of new and/or used equipment, from portable electrical generating units, to construction equipment, from construction materials to technology transfer.

In the short-term, Florida can assist by conducting technical needs assessments, providing technical assistance to develop an infrastructure development plan that will identify medium and long term needs. The State could also assist in improving the operational and financial viability of public utilities, upgrade and replace plants and equipment, and encourage competition in services.

Infrastructure development and maintenance is capital intensive. For nearly 30 years, Cuba received large subsidies from the former Soviet Union. This capital was wasted by the Castro regime on military adventurism, ignoring the day to day infrastructure needs of Cuba. Large sums were also directed to activities such as the development of biotechnology centers not appropriate in magnitude and expense for such a poor country, and which have failed to be justified financially. In fact, this sector has continued to receive heavy investment despite cutbacks in other sectors of the economy, The investment in the biotech sector has not resulted in significant inflows of capital, neither in benefits to the Cuban people, and has raised questions about the types of activities undertaken.

Florida should be prepared to be able to act immediately after the change. Specially in areas such as: oil and gas, electricity, housing, project management, computers, Internet, cellular telephone facilities, railways, highways, technology transfer, restructure of certain university programs, such as engineering and business, on the job training, feasibility studies, transportation, environmental studies and cleaning of rivers, lakes, bays, air. Florida ports and airports should be the main exit points to convey all needed resources to Cuba.

The time for these efforts is getting close. We need to be prepare.


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