CUBA OFFICIAL: LATEST EMBARGO MOVES WOULD ONLY SQUEEZE US BUSINESS

CUBA OFFICIAL: LATEST EMBARGO MOVES WOULD ONLY SQUEEZE US BUSINESS

Recent efforts by the United States to tighten the economic embargo on Cuba will not succeed, according to a senior official of the Cuban government.

"The embargo has not worked since it was implemented, and this latest move will not either," said Ricardo Alarcon, president of the Cuban National Assembly and a former foreign minister.Mr. Alarcon spoke at the end of a two-day visit to Jamaica, during which he met business leaders, the prime minister and government ministers and leaders of the parliamentary opposition.

U.S. legislators have moved to tighten the 33-year-old embargo on Cuba, seeking to penalize countries and companies trading with the island.

Lawmakers say the embargo is intended to force economic and political change in Cuba, which has a communist administration.

Caribbean countries have been increasing the volume and value of trade with Cuba, saying that the embargo should be lifted.

Change in Cuba will come with increasing ties with Havana and not be isolating the country, they say.

Only a few countries, including the United States, maintain the embargo.

"Since the bill to tighten the embargo was introduced in February of this year, we have received business and trade delegations from several countries," Mr. Alarcon said.

"These have included parliamentarians and businessmen, and they have signed agreements as we open up our economy.

"I am sorry for those backing this bill, but it will not have any chance of success now."

Although there had been "difficulties" for Cuba caused by the U.S. embargo, the island "will survive," Mr. Alarcon said.

It is U.S. businesses that were losing out because of the embargo, he said.

Companies from other countries make use of business opportunities in the island, and prospects for foreign investments will improve with a recently implemented foreign investment code, Mr. Alarcon said.

Except for the armed forces, education and hospital services, all sectors of the Cuban economy are open to foreign investment, said the former foreign minister.

Previously foreign investments had to be joint ventures with state agencies, but the new law permits ventures wholly owned by foreign investors.

"How long will the U.S. government be able to continue telling U.S. businessmen that they cannot invest in Cuba?" Mr. Alarcon asked.