The Florida Bar is sending its first ever delegation of lawyers to Cuba this week to explore emerging new business opportunities as prospects heat up for closer political and commercial relations between the United States and the Communist-run island.
Some big law firms with Miami offices, often staffed by Cuban-American exiles, are already beefing up their Cuba-related practices in response to queries from U.S. companies on issues ranging from telecommunications to banking, amid signs the longstanding U.S. trade embargo on Cuba is eroding.
Pedro Freyre, a Cuban-born attorney who heads the international practice at Akerman, said his phones started ringing within minutes of the December announcement by U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro that they had agreed to reestablish diplomatic ties severed some 54 years ago, and to work toward normalizing relations.
“These are exciting times,” said Freyre. “Our U.S. clients, some who are Fortune 100 companies, want to know can foreigners own land in Cuba … what is the power and water supply like, what are the work force rules?”
Since the December agreement, the two countries have held several meetings on restoring diplomatic relations and opening embassies. After two days of talks in Washington, Cuba and the United States said on Friday they had made progress and would continue negotiations in the coming weeks.