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Experts propose endowment for small businesses in post-Castro Cuba

.- A Cuban-American think tank has asked the US government, the European Union and private companies to create a special fund of $300 million to aid small businesses in the eventual post-Castro Cuba.

The Cuba Study Group hopes to continue an initiative launched in 1989, when President George Bush signed the bill, Support for Democracy in Eastern Europe, which helped to create a viable private sector in Hungary and Poland and provided funding to small businesses in those countries.

“We know that the current restrictions in law both in the United States and Cuba make the implementation of this project impossible right now,” Tomas Bilbao told the CubaNews agency.

Bilbao said it is important that there is preparation “to help the Cuban people and put options on the table.  We think it is important to announce this initiative at this time.”  He said that his organization would “work with US officials to encourage the creation of this fund.  What is clear, however, is that this project cannot be implemented until significant reforms take place in Cuba.”

Carlos Saladrigas, co-director of the think-tank, said pressure on Raul Castro to resolve the economic problems of the Church could accelerate eventual fundamental changes in Havana.  “I hope the Cuban government implements economic reform within the next two years, precisely allowing the startup of small businesses,” Saladrigas said.

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