"Working together for a free Cuba"




Cuba Facts
    Issue 8 - February 2005

Cuba Facts is an ongoing series of succinct fact sheets on various topics, including, but not limited to, political structure, health, economy, education, nutrition, labor, business, foreign investment, and demographics, published and updated on a regular basis by the Cuba Transition Project staff.

I. Cuba: Hard Currency Debt* (Dec. 2004)

Creditors By Country Debt (in USD $)

# Country Amount in USD.
1 Japan $2,331,000,000.00
2 Argentina $1,967,000,000.00
3 Spain   $1,765,000,000.00
4 France $1,316,000,000.00
5 Venezuela $992,000,000
6 China $682,000,000
7 Mexico $480,000,000
8 Italy $447,000,000
9 United Kingdom $371,000,000
10 Germany $317,000,000
11 Netherlands $295,000,000
12 Russia [post-Soviet era debts] $235,000,000
13 Czech Republic $226,000,000
14 Belgium $221,000,000
15 Panama $200,000,000
16 Canada $90,000,000
17 Austria $79,000,000
18 Brazil $40,000,000
19 Trinidad & Tobago $30,000,000
20 Uruguay $30,000,000
21 Sweden $22,000,000
22 Undisclosed Foreign Financing $258,000,000
23 Other Historic Debt $893,000,000
  TOTAL  $  13,287,000,000.00

*On the basis of Nov. 2004 exchange rates and rounded to the nearest million. 

II. Cuba: Non-Convertible Debt (2004 Est.)

CREDITOR GOVERNMENTS DEBT (in Transferable Rubles)
Russia [Soviet-era debt] (24) 20.848 billion
Romania (25) 951 million
Hungary (26) 200 million
Poland (27) 70 million
TOTAL 22.069 billion

III. Cuba: Per Capita Foreign Debt

Cuba [hard currency only]: US$1,176 (2004 est.)

Cuba [including ruble debt]: US$3,100 (2004 est.) [28]

IV. Cuba: Pre-Castro Foreign Debt [29]

Foreign Debt in 1958: US$48 million [~US$315 million in 2004 dollars]

Per Capita Foreign Debt in 1958: US$7.38 [~US$49 in 2004 dollars]


1. Cuba’s long-term debt to Japan is composed of approximately 245.86 billion yen in banking, commercial, and government-to-government debt dating from the 1970s. In 1998, and again in 2002 in order to avoid default, Cuba refinanced 100 billion yen in commercial debt with 182 Japanese suppliers . (Cf. Dalia Acosta, “Cuba-Japan: Brilliant Coup Behind Paris Club’s Back,” Inter Press Service, Havana, 26 March 1998, citing official Japanese sources and Cuba’s Central Bank president Francisco Soberón.) A separate accord, signed in 1999, allowed Havana to reschedule its short-term debt of 12 billion yen (some US$109 million) to the Japanese government. According to an anonymous Japanese diplomat cited by the foreign press in Cuba, in 2004 the Cuban government has reportedly made a first payment of US$50 million toward the principal of its aforementioned short-term debt with Tokyo. (Cf. Kyodo/Associated Press, “Japan accepts terms for deferring Cuba’s debt repayment,” Havana, 24 November 1999; Marc Frank, “Cuba repays some official debt as economy picks up,” Reuters, Havana, 26 April 2004.) In addition, the Basel, Switzerland-based Bank for International Settlements reported US$51 million (as of June 2004) in short-term financing to Cuba by Japanese banks. (Cf. Bank for International Settlements, BIS Consolidated Banking Statistics, October 2004 [http://www.bis.org/publ/r_hy0410.htm], hereinafter BIS Consolidated Banking Statistics, October 2004).

2. See Reuters, “Cuba, Argentina restore full ties, discuss debt,” Havana, 13 October 2003. The Cuban government has requested 75% forgiveness, as well as partial repayment in kind on the remainder, of its bilateral debt with Buenos Aires dating from the 1970s and early 1980s. (See Natasha Niebieskikwiat, “Cuba busca una quita del 75%de su deuda con la Argentina,” Clarín, Buenos Aires, 14 October 2003.)

3. Figure includes 780-million euros in direct government-to-government debt as well as 417 million euros in unpaid trade credits from 1971 to 2001 claimed by Spain’s state-backed export financing agency, CESCE. However, the historic (pre-1990) long-term portion of the debt has not been disclosed and is thus not included. (Cf. I. J. Domingo, “Cuba busca elevar su capacidad financiera con canje de deuda por inversión española,” Expansión, Madrid, 18 November 2002.) In addition, Spanish banks reported US$294 million in short-term financing to Cuba as of June 2004. (Cf. BIS Consolidated Banking Statistics, October 2004.)

4. Long-term Cuban debt claimed by the government of France stands at approximately 490 million euros. (Cf. French Senate report, “Principales créances de la France sur les Etats étrangers au 31 décembre 2002,” in Bienvenue au Sénat, “Project de loi de finances pour 2004,” online at [http://www.senat.fr/rap/l03-073-302/l03-073-30274.html]. The total figure also encompasses a separate short-term debt some 150 million euros, or about US$185 million (Cf. National Assembly of France, “Politique de la France vers Cuba,” 20 Jan. 2004, [http://www.ump.assemblee-nationale.fr/article.php3?id_article=2189]. Lastly, the total known debt also includes US$529 million in short-term financing provided by French banks as of June 2004. (Cf. BIS Consolidated Banking Statistics, October 2004.)

5. The debt represents less than three years' worth (2001-2003) of unpaid oil deliveries from Venezuela. Includes US$752 million in unpaid or deferred short-term debt as of January 2004 and US$240 million in long-term debt that came due in December 2003. (Cf. Alexei Barrionuevo and José de Córdoba, “For Aging Castro, Chavez Emerges as a Vital Crutch,” The Wall Street Journal, 2 February 2004; Marianna Párraga, "Cuba acumula deuda de US$891 millones con Venezuela," Caracas, El Universal, 14 January 2004.) For a detailed analysis of Venezuelan subsidies to Cuba see "Castro's Venezuelan Bonanza," Cuba Focus, April 20, 2004, [http://ctp.iccas.miami.edu/FOCUS_Web/Issue54.htm].

6. Cf. Mark Frank, “China’s Cuba business takes big leap forward,” Havana, Reuters, 11 April 2001 (which cites a US$210 loan granted in 2000); BBC News, “China to lend Cuba $400m,” Havana, 13 April 2001; “China Offer 400 Million Dollars in Loans to Cuba,” Beijing, People’s Daily, 14 April 2001. In addition, the Bank of Shanghai provided a loan in 2002 to a state-owned Sino-Cuban joint venture for construction of hotels in Havana and Shanghai. Cf. Feliberto Carrié, “El Banco de Shanghai concede a Cuba un crédito por 72 millones de dólares para la construcción de un hotel,” Europa Press, Havana, 4 October 2002.

7. Cf. Notimex, “Presenta Cuba propuesta a México para saldar deuda con Bancomext,” New York, 25 September 2004, citing a recent Mexico-Cuba inter-parliamentary gathering held in Havana in late September 2004.

8. Italian claims consist of approximately 240.9 million euros owed by Cuba to SACE (Italy’s government-backed trade financing agency), as disclosed by the Public Debt Management Division of Italy’s Department of the Treasury. Separately, the Banca d’Italia, Italy’s central bank, has reported an additional 22 million euros in Cuban obligations to the Italian government. Italy-based banks have also provided US$124 million in current short-term loans to Cuba as of June 2004. (Cf. BIS Consolidated Banking Statistics, October 2004.)

9. Cuba’s obligations to creditors in the United Kingdom include a 100-million pound medium-term debt to the government-backed Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD) and 90 million pounds to Britain's private sector. (Cf. Reuters, “UK to reopen Cuba credit cover after debt deal,” London, 23 September 1999.) UK-based lending institutions also reported US$27 million in current short-term financing to Cuba as of June 2004. (Cf. BIS Consolidated Banking Statistics, October 2004.)

10. In May 2000, Cuba and Germany signed a debt restructuring agreement, including both formerly East as well as West German claims, for repayment of 230 million German marks (valued at US$115 million). Cf. EFE, “Berlín y La Habana firman acuerdo renegociación de deuda,” Berlin, 26 May 2000. Also see the German Embassy in Havana website: http://www.deutschebotschaft-havanna.cu/spr_2/home/index.html. In addition, the figure includes US$202 million in short-term financing to Cuba by German banks as of June 2004. (Cf. BIS Consolidated Banking Statistics, October 2004.)

11. The debt represents short-term financing provided to Cuba by Netherlands-based banking institutions as of June 2004. (Cf. BIS Consolidated Banking Statistics, October 2004.)

12. Figure includes a US$150-million debt in hard currency due to unpaid trade credits for the import of Russian goods from 1994 through 2003, as part of a Russo-Cuban intergovernmental agreement. (Cf. Interfax, “Russia, Cuba to discuss debt in Dec.,” Moscow, 2 December 2003). In addition, Moscow has granted the Cuban government a US$85-million loan, repayable over nine years, in order to finance the sale of two Il-96-300 executive aircraft for use by Fidel Castro and the senior Cuban leadership. (Cf. MosNews, “Cuba to buy VIP Russian jets for $100M,” Moscow, 13 July 2004.)

13. Cuba’s debt to the former Czechoslovakia, and now claimed by the Czech Republic, has been reported at 5.8 billion Czech korunas. (Cf. Pablo Alfonso, “Crisis checa puede estar cerca del fin,” El Nuevo Herald, 31 January 2001.)

14. The Cuban and Belgian governments negotiated a restructuring accord in 2000 on the short-term portion (17.35 million euros) of Havana’s 171-million euro debt to Brussels. (Cf. EFE, “Bruselas y La Habana renegocian deuda bilateral,” Brussels, 30 March 2000.) In addition, Belgian lenders held US$11 million in short-term Cuban debt as of June 2004. (Cf. BIS Quarterly Review, October 2004).

15. In 2003, Panamanian trading companies based in the Colon Free Zone exported more than US$208 million in primarily third-country goods to Cuba. Suppliers and banks have reported that Cuban state-owned enterprises owe over US$200 million in financed purchases. (Cf. Dustin Guerra, “Cubanos adeudan 200 millones de dólares a ZLC,” Panama, La Prensa, 25 August 2004.)

16. Cuba’s official commercial debt in arrears to the Canadian government’s export financing agency, Export Development Canada (EDC), stood at C$114 million as of September 2003. Cf. Canadian govt.’s Cuba Fact Sheet, July 2004, [http://www.infoexport.gc.ca/ie-en/DisplayDocument.jsp?did=213&gid=193]. BIS statistics reveal no current short-term financing to Cuba by Canada-based banks as of June 2004. (Cf. BIS Consolidated Banking Statistics, October 2004)

17. The debt represents current short-term financing provided by Austria-based institutions as of June 2004. (Cf. BIS Consolidated Banking Statistics, October 2004)

18. Cf. Mireya Castañeda, “Cuba-Brazil cooperation diversifies,” Havana, Granma Internacional, 29 Sept. 2003, [http://www.granma.cu/ingles/2003/septiembre03/lun29/lula3.html].

19. Trinidad-based Republic Bank Ltd. has disclosed that it is currently extending about US$30 million a year to Cuban state-owned enterprises. Cf. Larry Luxner, “Trinidad & Tobago seeks to expand links with Cuba,” CubaNews, October 2003, p. 10.

20. Cuba has a longstanding commercial debt of US$30 million with Uruguay. Cf. “Cuba desafía a Uruguay a romper relaciones diplomáticas,” Notimex, Havana, 23 April 2002.

21. Figure represents current short-term financing to Cuba by Sweden-based banks as of June 2004 (Cf. BIS Consolidated Banking Statistics, October 2004).

22. Figure represents current short-term financing to Cuba by banks of non-disclosed nationality as of June 2004 (Cf. BIS Consolidated Banking Statistics, October 2004).

23. As of the late 1990s, when the Cuban government last provided an account of its obligations by creditor nation and currencies, debt denominated in Swiss francs comprised 8.5 percent (approximately US$893 million) of a then total foreign debt of US$10.5 billion.

24. Figure represents debt owed in transferable rubles to the former USSR and assumed by Russia. No repayment accords have been reached with Russia. In response to Moscow’s insistence on transferable-ruble debt negotiations with Havana in the context of the island’s hard-currency debts to other Paris Club creditors, the Cuban government has refused to countenance any multilateral arrangements and presented counter claims for damages due to the demise of the Soviet Union. Cf. “The Infamous Paragraph,” [editorial by the Cuban government on disputes, including the bilateral debt, with the Russian government], Havana, Granma Internacional, 27 Oct. 2001, http://www.granma.cu/documento/ingles01/041-i.html.) Cuba’s total Soviet-era transferable ruble debts to Russia and Eastern European states have been estimated at US$26.7 billion. Cf. Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Market, Socialist and Mixed Economies: Comparative Policy and Performance: Chile, Cuba and Costa Rica (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), pp. 380-381. See also Oscar Espinosa Chepe, “Crece la deuda externa cubana,” Cubanet, Havana, 6 February 2003, [http://pscuba.org/articulos/crece.htm].

25. As of the end of 2001, Cuba’s Soviet-era obligations to Romania stood at 951 million transferable rubles, making the island one of Romania’s top debtors. Cf. National Bank of Romania, Balance of Payments 2001 report, [http://www.bnro.ro/def_en.htm.]

26. Cf. Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Hungary Seeks Closer Ties with Latin America,” Budapest, 8 May 1997, [http://www.undp.org/missions/hungary/0509hula.htm.]

27. Debt figure provided by the Polish government. According to Warsaw, the Castro regime has refused to discuss the Soviet-era transferable ruble debt owed to Poland.

28. Cuba's total estimated population in 2004 surpassed 11.3 million inhabitants. A total foreign debt of about US$35 billion assumes 22.069 billion transferable rubles at parity (1:1) with the U.S. dollar. For an analysis of the transferable ruble debts to Russia by former Soviet client states, see Sam Vaknin, "Russia as a creditor," UPI, March 27, 2002, [http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=27032002-014135-2690r].

29. Cf. Jose R. Alvarez Diaz, et al., Un estudio sobre Cuba (Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami Press, 1963), p. 1368. In 1958 Cuba had a total population of approximately 6.5 million inhabitants (Alvarez Diaz et al., p. 1524). With respect to the value of 1958 dollars in equivalent 2004 dollars, the Cuban government uses a factor of 6.57 to convert (multiply) 1958 dollars in terms of current purchasing power. Cf. Maria Julia Mayoral, "Cuba recupera la soberania monetaria," Granma, 9 November 2004 [http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/secciones/mesa/mesa402.htm].

Source: http://ctp.iccas.miami.edu
The CTP can be contacted at P.O. Box 248174, Coral Gables, Florida 33124-3010, Tel: 305-284-CUBA (2822), Fax: 305-284-4875, and by email at ctp.iccas@miami.edu. The CTP Website is accessible at http://ctp.iccas.miami.edu