Fidel Castro
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Havana Cuba. – The 2022 Business Opportunities Portfolio, presented at the beginning of the year and systematically disclosed in all events related to foreign investments in Cuba, did not include among the main proposals of the CubaSol company (through the CubaGolf society) an important plot of about 15 square kilometers, located to the south of the town of Jaimanitas, In the Habana.

Although for May of this year, and on the occasion of the celebration of the International Tourism Fair in Varaderoit was thought about an update of the portfolio published by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment (MINCEX), the news that some expected did not arrive, especially the inclusion of the land that extends between the intersections of streets 11 B, Fifth D and 222 of the Playa municipality, better known as Punto Cero and where the Castro residences were located until a few years ago.

Neither at the end of October, during the Great Varadero Golf Tournament, did Luis Martínez de Armas, president of the Cubasol SA company, which includes the Cubagolf SA company, among others, mention the plot in Jaimanitas during the event’s closing speech; However, in various meetings and business dinners held during the four days that the competition lasted, not only did he positively answer questions in private about the possibility that Punto Cero would soon be transformed into an 18-hole golf course, but also that, According to information from various witnesses and interlocutors, he himself raised the issue in the after-dinner conversations ―where he was also present Antonio “Tony” Castro Soto del Valle― in search of foreign capital for a project that, although approved in strict confidence, as he has repeatedly noted, is still not well received by several of the most backward figures of the Cuban regime, as well as by some members of the Castro family, among them her own Dahlia Soto del ValleFidel Castro’s widow.

At Punto Cero Fidel Castro used to receive his guests. From left to right, the Vice President of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner; Dalia Soto del Valle and Castro himself (Photo: Press Office of the Presidency/Argentina)

A not so recent proposal

Despite what has been reported in Varadero, the rumors about the possibility that the large complex of houses and land known as Punto Cero ends up being transformed into a golf course connected to the facilities of the Marina Hemingway, as part of a large exclusive real estate complex for foreigners, date back to the beginning of 2018, when Tony Castro himself, winner of several international golf championships and the main promoter of this sport on the Island, made the proposal to his uncle Raúl and he replied that it was an “interesting project”. , provided that the main residence, as well as the house that was inhabited by him and Vilma Espín for years, to the south of Punto Cero, down Calle 222, were excluded from any negotiation.

In fact, shortly after the go-ahead, even without Dalia Soto del Valle having left definitively —who moved of her own free will to another residence in the Atabey area, in the same municipality—, Punto Cero ceased to be the bunker forbidden to vehicular and people traffic, with various security perimeters guarded by snipers, to become passable land in its immediate vicinity, including Quinta D and 222nd street, the roads closest to the main mansions, despite the fact that the roads are still active. checkpoints with armed soldiers and the signs that limit the passage.

Pope Francis, Dalia Soto del Valle and Fidel Castro, at Punto Cero, 2015 (Photo: Alex Castro)

“Security was reduced to a small troop of about 10 soldiers, but the unit as such was deactivated in 2019 and transferred permanently to Playa Baracoa,” says a source linked to the Castro family and consulted by CubaNet under condition of anonymity. “They only left posts around the house because Dalia visits her from time to time (…), but there is almost nothing left there. Everything important went to Atabey, to other houses, to the Fidel Castro Center. That is devastated”, affirms the interviewee.

Another anonymous source consulted in this regard, and who, because he lives in the area, has been able to get close to the perimeter regularly, admits that the land, occupied by weeds, exhibits marked deterioration and that there are days when the sentry boxes seem abandoned, although they remain Activate the security cameras.

“The golf course is being discussed. They say that it will be as big as the one in Varadero, that it will reach the Marina (Hemingway)”, says the source. “Before, you couldn’t pass, they would rake the weapon almost in your face, the Beret cars made rounds all day, even if (Fidel Castro) was not there. Now anyone even stops to look and they don’t say anything, so they don’t let you film or take out your cell phone, you have to do it without the cameras seeing you. They are soldiers who are not there at all, even sometimes the posts are empty”.

Varadero golf course
Varadero golf course (Photo: Prensa Latina)

150 million dollars would cost the investment

The fact that it does not appear in the Portfolio of Opportunities is not a sign that the Cuban regime has renounced taking advantage of what at the time, during the years prior to 1950, was part of an extensive golf club, the famous Havana Biltmore Yacht and Country Club, which extended over some 40 hectares that were later occupied not only by the Punto Cero residential complex, built before 1959, but also by the town of Jaimanitas itself and part of the current Marina Hemingway.

According to sources from the island’s Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR), consulted by CubaNetthere is a possibility that the project has aroused the interest of some companies, including the Canadian Golf Design Services LTD, which in the late 1990s was also in charge of the design of the Varadero golf course, as well as a partnership with another Canadian entity, whose name or origin has not yet been revealed but which, according to various sources, could be Sunwing Travel Group, owner of Blue Diamond, plus two other companies in the real estate sector, Esencia Hotels and Resorts, from the United Kingdom, and Caribbean Resorts and Golf, associated 30 percent to Urbas Grupo Financiero, from Spain, plus other real estate entities from the Balearic Islands, linked to the Cristoforetti familyclosely related to Tony Castro’s business both in Cuba and in Europe and Panama.

According to information collected by CubaNetthe project would have first received the approval of MINCEX and later of the Council of State, and both the foreign and Cuban parties, made up of Cubasol SA and Gaviota SA, had been summoned since 2019 to form a single company before December 2022 —different and independent from those that already exist, such as Empresa Mixta Carbonera SA and Ceiba SA—, which would be registered in the United Kingdom and the Balearic Islands, in order to facilitate financing efforts, the amount of which would be calculated at around 150 million dollars , in addition to the nearly 20 million that the expansion and modernization of the Marina Hemingway dock alone would cost, an investment that was described in the most recent Portfolio of Opportunities, with an annual income perspective of between 4 and 5 million of USD, and with an estimate of recovery of the investment of nine years.

In the end it would be, as a whole, a field similar to that of Varadero, or probably larger, which would extend beyond the perimeter of Punto Cero to the Palco trading company, to the east, and the dock to the northwest. At least one hotel with about 80 rooms plus a residential area with houses and a commercial area are also planned.

“They are considering the vicinity of Mariel, in the center of Havana, but also in the health tourism circuit, with which the projects further west are canceled for the moment,” says a source from the Ministry of Tourism. “It is a megaproject in an area that, to tell the truth, is now abandoned, and that due to the amount of area that it strategically encompasses, interrupts the development of an area with very high potential for investment and tourism.”

cuba zero point fidel castro house
The entire area occupied by Punto Cero, in the Playa municipality, Havana (Google Maps)

More crisis, more golf, more contradictions and fewer tourists

While the energy crisis worsens due to the lack of financial resources to modernize the national electricity system, as well as the arrival of tourists still failing to reach the levels of years prior to the pandemic, companies associated with tourism such as Cubasol SA and Gaviota SA are determined to in executing 100 percent of the investments projected by 2030, which includes not only hotels but also theme parks, nautical parks, and more than a dozen golf courses throughout the Island.

In accordance with statements by Alex Muletvice president of Cubasol, in the coming years, and until 2030, the group aspires to complete some 150 non-hotel and real estate service projects, including the sale of properties to foreigners.

However, according to the information published in the various Opportunity Portfolios published from 2016 to the present, many of the 395 initial proposals, largely associated with tourism and real estate businesses, have not received a response, so that the The majority is repeated in the new editions, adding to other projects, for a total of 678 in this year, which may never come to fruition due to the lack of confidence of investors in a political-economic scenario where nothing is what it claims to be. .

After the practice of golf has been censored for decades, for being considered by Fidel Castro as a “bourgeois sport”, and even after ordering the destruction or abandonment of almost all the courses that existed before 1959, today many are surprised and the Cuban regime’s insistence on building dozens of expensive facilities associated with real estate projects is worrying. Even more so when the numbers of participants in the convened tournaments have plummeted, having reached the record number of competitors during October 2018 when only 144 athletes attended, from 11 countries, while in the most recent the number dropped to only 54, the majority Canadians.

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