Devry Boughner Vorwerk Quoted in POLITICO, Latinvex on Opportunities in Cuba

Akin Gump senior policy advisor Devry Boughner Vorwerk was quoted in Latinvex about Cuba’s decision this year to legalize small- and medium-sized private businesses. She responded to a question about whether the new policy will “unleash entrepreneurs” and if she thinks Cuba’s relationship with the United States will evolve in light of the change.

Vorwerk, who serves as chair of the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba, said Cuba is trying hard to “reconcile its social model with economic realities.” To do this, she said, Havana “is enacting its own internal reforms to keep pace with its growth plan, and to prepare itself for imminent liberalization through the removal of sanctions.”

The Cuban government, Vorwerk noted, hopes to realize the economic potential of its people “by allowing citizens to push the limits on their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. Legalization of small- and medium-sized businesses is an important first step in achieving growth. These businesses can now operate in the open and under the ‘Cuban sunshine.’”

According to Vorwerk, however, legal recognition of these businesses will not be enough. The government will need to add “transparent regulation, consistent implementation and institutional capacity to support the emerging private sector,” though the burden for success remains in the hands of the U.S. Congress, as many Cuban entrepreneurs will require seed capital to kick start their businesses.

“Removal of trade sanctions will allow for free flow of private capital to Cuba, which can expedite the growth of private enterprise in the country,” Vorwerk added. “At this moment” she said, “we cannot predict how it will all play out. We should expect some fits and starts, but betting on the innovation and ingenuity of the Cuban people is a good place to begin.”

Meanwhile, Vorwerk, speaking to POLITICO about legislation that would have eased agricultural exports to Cuba, said, “We're going to let the dust settle today, and then we’re gonna reassess our strategy.” The comment was made after a House member withdrew the measure. Vorwerk, who had advocated strongly for it, said it was a positive development as it showed that her coalition had been able to raise awareness about the issue.