EFEMiami

Representatives of several Florida law firms are traveling on Wednesday to Cuba to evaluate firsthand the system of regulations affecting business and its legal protection, within the context of the process of normalizing relations with the Havana regime.

This is the first trip to the Caribbean island by a contingent of 37 lawyers specializing in financial and legal affairs sponsored by the Florida Bar, and they will examine in depth the regulatory framework of Cuba's centralized economic system.

During their four-day visit, the attorneys will participate in a series of chats about the Cuban legal system, the official regulations and how they affect foreign investment.

But several analysts expressed skepticism about the possibility of making significant advances in this area while Cuban authorities hold a monopoly on business and the means of production.

"This trip is going to lead to very little. They are attorneys who represent, some of them, international corporations that have already invested in Cuba. But the U.S. firms cannot invest," because of Washington's trade embargo on the island, Jaime Suchlicki, the head of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Academic Studies at the University of Miami, told Efe.

Therefore, he said, the visit is "very premature" and is a move that is more of an "outing, creating contacts with Cuban government officials and analysis."

Florida International University economic professor Jorge Salazar-Carrillo admitted that the trip "has little value," and - given the fact that "Cuban legislation is enormously complicated and depends completely on the Cuban Communist Party" - the Florida lawyers will find it "very difficult to unravel" the ins and outs of the island's legal system.

"This is much more complicated than people think and it's going to take a long time," the analyst said.

However, in the opinion of Emilio Morales, the president of the influential Havana Consulting Group, the attorneys' visit to Cuba shows the "interest that exists in the U.S. business community in learning about the real potentials of the Cuban market," as well as the desire to examine the "legal framework that governs the economy and business on the island."

Morales referred to the rapprochement between the U.S. and Cuban governments as a factor that has "sparked an increase in trips by businesspeople to the island" in an attempt to remedy the "profound unfamiliarity with its laws and its market."