From the finance desk
Reuters reports today that French exporters are kicking up a stink demanding the Castro regime repays an estimated US$170 million owed to farm producers.
Apparently, the French generously provided Havana some years ago with a stack of long-term credits so the communist government could purchase food, including wheat.
It was all going swimmingly until Castro refused to make any repayments, which means the French are now sending angry letters to the Cuban central bank asking for their money.
Wish them luck - Castro never pays his debts and he is certainly not about to start now.
According to the Reuters report, Cuba owes Western nations an estimated US$8,000 million in so-called inactive debts racked up prior to 1986. Plus another US$ 5,800 million in “active” debt since 1989. Not to mention the billions owed to the old Soviet Union.
That’s why Cuba is considered a huge credit risk. That's why it's forced to pay interest rates of up to 20 per cent for short-term loans.
One final ironic twist: part of the reason the French are not getting their money back is because the island is using its limited reserves to buy food from … US farmers. Who must be paid in cold, hard cash.
Don’t you just love high finance?