Gotham Government Relations & Communications and Latin American trade attorney Antonio C. Martinez II. Esq were featured in the April 13 lead story in City and State Magazine on Cuba, which noted their leadership on US-Cuban business relations, and offered their insights on the emerging business opportunities in Cuba, and what this means right now for U.S. businesses and organizations, and in the future.

Excerpted from CITY & STATE’s “Cuomo to Cuba”:

After his Assembly showdown with Malliotakis, Assemblyman Rivera left Albany and returned to New York City to address a small crowd about Cuba trade opportunities. The gathering, hosted by Gotham Government Relations & Communications at an Upper West Side steakhouse, was attended by business executives, lobbyists, a Cuban diplomat and several Cuomo administration officials.

Rivera opened the event with a joke. As ties between Cuba and the U.S. were rapidly deteriorating in the early 1960s, Rivera said, one of Fidel Castro’s closest confidantes, Che Guevara, asked whether the rift would ever be mended. “I don’t think Fidel knew what to say to Che in that very sad moment,” Rivera said. “He turned to Che and said, ‘Che, that day will come when the United States has a black president and the pope is an Argentinian like you.’ ”

Kay Sarlin Wright, an executive vice president at Empire State Development, spoke next, offering few details except to say that “New York State is the state of opportunity, and boy, is there an opportunity with Cuba and with this upcoming trade mission.” Rivera interjected that a meeting he had with Cuomo on Cuba had gone well, and that the governor had his guayabera ready for the trip.

Ariel Hernández, the first secretary of the Cuban mission to the U.N., said that the renewed diplomatic activity had him feeling optimistic. “My country is an amazing country, and the Cuban people are a smart and amazing people, too,” he said. “If you have your will to approach Cuba, we only ask your respect to Cuba, so that’s why we are open—we are waiting for you, we are waiting for your intention, your will, your business, your friendship, so that’s why we are here today.”

Antonio Martinez, the consultant on Cuba trade opportunities, gave the feature presentation. He said that Cubans remain wary of the U.S., given its history of exploitation and meddling in the affairs of Latin American countries. The country now has a flood of potential investors to pick from, Martinez added, and will assess who is “committed to a long-term approach or a one-shot deal.”

“You have to think incrementally,” Martinez cautioned. “It’s not going to happen where you’re going to go there and make a presentation and you’re going to close this huge transaction—probably not likely. Everything is going to be done step by step, and in a confidence-building approach. The Cubans will do things in baby steps. It’s just the nature of it. It’s also because the relationship is still not totally restored or reconciled completely.”

After the event, several of the attendees said they were thrilled about the opening of Cuba, even if the going will be slow. Henry Goodfriend, the president of Goodfriend Global Group, an international commercial real estate firm, said he hopes to set up shop on the island quickly to beat the rush.

“You’ve got to start somewhere,” Goodfriend said. “It’s going to happen. If opportunity knocks, you’ve got to at least open the door.”

Read more from CITY & STATE’s “Cuomo to Cuba”….

Read more about our Cuba Trade Group here…

 

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