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Mexican businessmen reject application of Helms-Burton on Cuba

The application of the third chapter of the Helms-Burton Law ''is a disgrace and is not good news for any businessman, because it comes to asphyxiate more the economy of Cuba,'' said investor Jaime Torres Escuen.

The businessman, who has been in charge of the Mexico-Cuba Committee of the Mexican Business Council for Foreign Trade (Comce) made the statement the eve in statements to the digital version of newspaper La Jornada.

Torres Escuen explained that this chapter reinforces the U.S. trade blockade against Cuba, which had been suspended since 1996 when the legislation was approved.

Since the night of Wednesday, April 17, Mexico's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) stated that 'it will protect Mexican companies that do or have an interest in doing business with Cuba and could be affected,' the digital newspaper said.

Statistics from the Bank of Mexico (BM) indicate that Mexico's trade with Cuba is currently lower than that with 6 of 7 Central American countries (Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, the exception is Belize) as well as with the other two largest countries of the Antilles or the Caribbean (Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic).

Torres Escuen told La Jornada that 'in the first place we are against the United States reactivating the third chapter of Helms-Burton, because it is arbitrary and illegal and we are against extraterritoriality,' referring to the sanctions that the government of President Donald Trump intends to impose on individuals or companies doing business with the island.

'Secondly, we are against the blockade, and thirdly, we agree with and support the position set by the government of Mexico, almost in the same terms as those proposed by the European Union and Canada.

Of course the companies that do business with Cuba are going to have problems, but it's also a great opportunity to do things, especially when the government (of Andrés Manuel López Obrador's presidency) is turning to South America, the Caribbean and Central America and not just North America,' Torres Escuen said.

Mexico-Cuba trade in 2018 amounted to 443 million 296 thousand dollars, of which 95 percent corresponded to Mexican exports. The amount represents almost one-fifth of the 2.489 billion dollars of Mexico's trade with Guatemala.

Mexico-Cuba trade has doubled in the last 25 years, totalling $181.175 billion dollars in 1993, before Mexico embarked on its free trade race with the signing of several treaties.

Although Mexico has always recorded a trade surplus with Cuba, it has recorded better results in other years: in 1993 the products it sells to Mexico were for only 7 million dollars and by 1997, one year after the entry into force of the first chapters of Helms-Burton, totaled 34.2 million dollars.

The maximum of Cuban imports made by Mexico was reached in 2008 with 53.3 million, but in 2017 plummeted to add only 8 million, the same level as 25 years earlier, but last year stood at 20.8 million, concludes information from La Jornada.

(Cubavsbloqueo/Prensa Latina)