The presence of the Odebrecht company in more than 21 countries and across a broad range of business sectors that offer integrated, innovative and practical solutions, is an indication of why the Brazilian group have an interest in contributing to the development of their host nations.

The presence of the Odebrecht company in more than 21 countries and across a broad range of business sectors that offer integrated, innovative and practical solutions, is an indication of why the Brazilian group have an interest in contributing to the development of their host nations.Oderbrecht has, on the basis of such ideas and actions, been working with Cuba since the construction of the Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM in Spanish) container terminal began in 2010 and was inaugurated in January 2014.

The company’s representative in Cuba, Mauro Augusto Hueb, told The Havana Reporter that its first project outlined the possibilities of a future in Cuba and the Caribbean island’s readiness for development led to the decision to contribute more to that process.

He added that “We saw great potential in establishing a presence in Cuba on the basis of the possible requirements of an internal market of 11 million people in this country in addition to the Caribbean region as a whole”.

For Hueb, this was a decision to come to stay and ‘accompany’ the island, something that goes beyond economic interests, stemming from the long-standing relations between Cuba and Brazil.

He said that it was not a question of lightning-like acts to finish a project and then move on, but rather a policy of coming on board to contribute to the development of the country and to the construction of trust-based relationships.

The 70 year-old Brazilian group has led infrastructural and strategic construction operations overseas for the development of productive sectors for 40 years.

Odebrecht is the largest Latin American construction company to have worked in Cuba, which is why, having concluded the first phase of the ZEDM container terminal; it has been authorized to use the enclave and as been given two further contracts in the sugar and civil aviation sectors.

Hueb has not ruled out the possibility of an approach to Cuban authorities regarding participation in the second phase of the container terminal project, given that the master plan is far greater and designed to advance in accordance with demand.

The group’s “Companhia de Obras e Infraestructura”+(COI) company received official notification on January 23 that it could establish itself as an approved ZEDM user, in order to offer engineering and construction services to potential investors in the zone.

Fully funded by its own capital resources, COI has been granted a 15 year operational license which may be renewed, something Hueb pointed out as being their intention, for the Zone, situated to the west of Havana.

He stated in this regard that the perspectives are even broader still, because the group is hoping to attain a second Mariel license as an investor in the construction and operation of a plastic package and container plant.

He said that Odebrecht is very experienced in this field, having plastic resin factories in both Brazil and Mexico, which would facilitate their proposal.

The giant Brazilian corporation has also signed a technical support contract for the soon to commence upgrading and extension of the Jose Marti International Airport, which will double the present 3 million passenger capacity in two years.

The project seeks to increase service efficiency in response to the growing demands of international tourism and envisions the importation of the requisite goods and services for its completion.

Due to its experience of sugar, ethanol and bioenergy production in Brazil and Angola, Odebrecht has a 13 year administration contract with the Azcuba group for the “5 de Septiembre” refinery in the central province of Cienfuegos.

The administration seeks to use modern technology to recover production levels at the plant and to maximize electricity generation from sugar cane pulp, which requires a structure of credits and improvements in agriculture through plantation increases and efficient yields per hectare as well as the administration of the industrial plant.

Hueb explained that the purpose of all these projects was not to try to force the pace, but rather to utilize existing Cuban human capital and thus be of benefit to it, through the creation of more jobs and the contribution of advanced technology.

He added that “Cubans are extraordinarily skilled and quick to learn all they are taught, permitting fast progress in project development. The construction work we undertook in Mariel was an example of this, where 6,000 workers passed through our training programs”.

Odebrecht has a diverse list of activities in infrastructure, real estate, industrial plants, agro-industry, chemicals, gas, petro-chemicals, environmental engineering and renewable energy, fields supported by interests in transport, roadways, railways ports and airports.

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