09/20/13 - Progreso Weekly (Miami) - Raúl Castro signs decree for Mariel Development Zone
HAVANA, 19 Sept 13 Radio Progreso Alternativa (RPA)/Progreso Semanal
President Raúl Castro of Cuba today signed the decree-law that created the
islands first Special Zone of Development, in Mariel (ZEDM).
The news was announced during the 8 p.m. broadcast of the Cuban TV
Newscast. It said that, during the meeting of the Council of State, Raúl
Castro emphasized that, for this regional development project, national and
international experiences were taken into account.
Mariel, a municipality 49 kilometers west of the capital, is one of the
islands best ports. The depth of its bay has been increased enough to
accommodate large ships with deep load draft.
West of the bay, on what until 1960 was Cubas naval air force base, the
landing strip has been extended considerably and widened by means of
The ZEDM, built at a cost of approximately $900 million (of which Brazil
contributes $640 million), will begin partial operations by years end. The
area set aside for containers can receive about 3 million of them every
The concept of the ZEDM is all-inclusive, because its plans allow for
housing production centers of various types.
At the time a ship unloads, say, fabric for garments, an industrial
process will begin in the same zone, and out of this port will emerge
shirts, pants and other garments, said a source who works in the
facilities being built.
The objectives of the nations most important project can be summarized
To replace the port of Havana as the countrys commercial axis. Havana
Bay will be reserved for marinas and the berthing of tourist cruise ships.
To replace the largest amount of imports as possible, thus stimulating
national production and added value.
To generate jobs in the specific zone and allow development to spill over
into the surrounding territory (municipalities and the province of
Artemisa, where Mariel is situated.)
The labor force at the ZEDM will be ruled by a special labor regime.
Business companies will have to hire personnel through an employment agency
owned by the state, a practice that is not new in Cuba.
The decree-law will take effect on Nov. 1 next.
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