Cuba’s easy blood money not so easy for some foreign businessmen
A couple of days ago, we talked about how the promise of easy blood money lures foreign businessmen to Cuba and into partnerships with the criminal and murderous Castro dictatorship. But there are two sides to this bloody coin (pun intended): While some manage to get rich quick through partnerships with the proverbial devil, there are others who do not fare so well. These are the ones that for one reason or another fall out of favor with Cuba's Castro mafia and if they are lucky, the worst thing that happens is they end up in a Cuban gulag.
Canadian entrepreneur jailed in Cuba two years still not charged
Imprisonment of Cy Tokmakjian, 73, could impact international firms doing business on the island, as they worry that practices considered acceptable under former president Fidel Castro could now be illegal under Raul Castro’s administration.
Two years after his arrest and with no charges laid, a Canadian entrepreneur remains imprisoned in Cuba — a situation his Member of Parliament says is worrying and could impact the international business community working on the island.
Peter Kent recently visited Cy Tokmakjian in Cuba’s La Condesa prison, where the 73-year-old is being held.
“After two years without charges we would respectfully and on the basis of the long relationship between Canada and Cuba — we don’t always agree, but we tend to work on our differences, whatever they are — it’s time to move ahead and get this case resolved in a timely fashion,” said Kent, who represents Thornhill, Tokmakjian’s hometown.
“We don’t want to interfere at all in the justice process, but we do believe the rule of law should be respected.”
Tokmakjian, founder of the Tokmakjian Group transportation firm, which operates in Canada, Asia, Central America and the Caribbean, was arrested by Cuban authorities in September 2011. His company was one of the largest foreign operations in the country.
Some businesses in Cuba are now worried that practices considered acceptable under former president Fidel Castro could now be illegal under Raul Castro’s administration. Those might include incentive or performance pay and emergency assistance to the families of employees, Kent said.
“That’s the big concern going forward,” Kent said. “One of the European ambassadors that I spoke with a couple weeks ago said his country is concerned because they have businesses operating in Cuba and have over the same 20-, 30-year time period . . . used the same business practices as those which are now considered unacceptable.”
Kent said Tokmakjian is keen to find out what charges he might face and to defend himself against them. (The Cuban Embassy in Ottawa did not respond to the Star’s queries about the case.)
A spokeswoman for Consular Affairs Minister Lynne Yelich said the Canadian government has provided ongoing assistance to Tokmakijan and his family, and that ministers have “met with senior Cuban officials to request a timely and transparent investigation.”