Amid Graft Probe, Brazil Freezes Credit for Cuba’s Mariel Port

Brazil’s state development bank (“BNDES”) has frozen loan disbursements for Cuba’s Mariel port and “special economic development zone” (“SEDZ”), as part of a major corruption investigation.

As we all know, the Mariel port and SEDZ project was built pursuant to a shady deal between Cuban dictator Raul Castro and former Brazilian president Lula da Silva.

Pursuant to the deal, Brazilian engineering firm Odebrecht would receive nearly $800 million in financing from BNDES, in partnership with a shadow company of the Cuban military called Almacenes Universales, S.A.

This past Monday, Brazilian prosecutors charged Lula da Silva; Odebrecht CEO Marcelo Odebrecht, who is already serving a 19-year sentence for separate corruption charges; and nine others over allegations that Lula secured BNDES funding for Odebrecht projects in Angola. In return, prosecutors said, Odebrecht bribed Lula and some people close to him.

Have no doubt, Cuba’s Mariel project will be next.

(We’ve been warning about the Lula-Odebrecht-Castro-Mariel project since 2011. See herehereherehereherehere and here.)

To date, the biggest shipment from the Mariel port has been an illegal cargo of 240 tons of weapons (also see here) to North Korea. No joke.

And yet, this is the same Port that Obama Administration officials shamefully tour and propagate.

Just last week, Obama’s U.S. Trade Representative, Michael Froman, spent two-days in Cuba touring the Mariel port and SEDZ.

Must have been to celebrate graft and corruption.

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