Brazil's Rousseff focuses on economy in Cuba visit

AP News
Posted: Jan 30, 2012 6:27 PM
Brazil's Rousseff focuses on economy in Cuba visit

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff began a tour of Cuba on Monday in a visit emphasizing trade and economic cooperation.

Rousseff was greeted at Havana's international airport in the afternoon by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez. She waved to reporters but did not make any public statements before leaving by car.

Her office said the trip would seek to bolster trade between the two nations, which rose 31 percent from 2010 to hit a record $642 million last year.

Rousseff planned to meet with President Raul Castro on Tuesday in the capital and also tour the nearby port of Mariel, which is being expanded with the goal of turning the facility into a base for industry and oil operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

Brazil has financed almost 80 percent of the port project's $683 million price tag, according to a statement by the Brazilian presidency.

Also Monday, one of Brazil's biggest construction companies, Odebrecht, said an independent subsidiary would sign a contract to help administer the September 5 sugar mill in Cienfuegos province.

In a statement, Odebrecht said the 10-year agreement between its Infrastructure Works Co. and Cuba's state-run Azcuba sugar group "aims to increase sugar production and milling capacity and aid in revitalization."