Eyes on Cuba: U.S. Business and the Embargo

File photo of (L-R) Chief of Cuba's Armed Forces Raul Castro, Cuba's cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez, Cuba's President Fidel Castro and Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Romanenko during a reception ceremony at Havana's Jose Marti airport, October 1980. Prensa Latina / Reuters

By the end of 1995, the private jet hangar at José Martí International Airport in Havana was already booked well into 1996, and most of the reservations belonged to one of Cuba's rare clienteles: American corporations. Chief executives on familiarization trips and technical analysts on fact-finding missions have been scouting for numerous prominent and curious firms, including General Motors, Sears Roebuck, Avis, Hyatt, ITT Sheraton, Bank of Boston, Gillette, and Radisson Hotels. Increasingly, these firms like what they see of the Cuban economy and grouse openly at what they are being denied by the U.S. embargo. "The embargo is a waste of taxpayer dollars and time," said James E. Perrella, CEO of construction giant Ingersoll-Rand, after a November meeting with Cuban President Fidel Castro. Perrella, recently named chairman of the 500-corporate-member National Foreign Trade Council, is echoed by a growing number of Fortune 500 companies. Dwayne O. Andreas, chairman of Archer Daniels

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