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PART II Cubas Boating Ambassador Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich

In our December issue, we printed the first part of an interview with Commodore José Miguel Díaz Escrich of the Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba (HIYC), who was recently appointed President of Marlin Marinas Business Group (MARLIN S.A.) in Cuba. Commodore Escrich served for more than 25 years in the Cuban Navy before founding the Hemingway International Yacht Club in 1992. Through the HIYC, he has extended a hand of friendship and camaraderie to all who share his love of the ocean, no matter their nationality.

Now, as President of MARLIN S.A., he is championing another cause: the creation of the Association of Cuban Marinas. It is a goal he has had in his sights for years, to create an avenue for cooperation between the two large marina companies in Cuba to achieve common goals. It would also allow both marinas to become a part of international organizations such as the Caribbean Marine Association. He believes that his new position brings this latest dream one step closer to realization; MARLIN S.A. already has established an excellent relationship with Marinas Gaviota, the other large Cuban marina company.

These questions for Commodore Escrich were about his vision of the future. The short answer is that he has nothing but hope, optimism that has brought him the success he has achieved, both personally and for the HIYC and Cuban nautical tourism in general:

What would you like to see accomplished for Cuban tourism?

I would like Cuban tourism to continue being one of the main sources of income for the Cuban people and the country in general. Part of my struggle as Commodore of the HIYC of Cuba has been contributing to the development of the recreational boating industry and nautical tourism as a source of employment for my fellow countrymen.

I wish the development of tourism would foster friendship and fraternity among people and to protect the environment as well as aquatic and land flora and fauna. As representative of the International Game Fish Association in Cuba, I work for the implementation of their regulations, which defend responsible fishing and the preservation of billfish species, so that future generations can enjoy sport fishing.

What do you think about recent reports that Cuba is going to ask the UN to have US sanctions lifted? Do you think it will work? How would it affect the tourism industry?

For more than 15 years, the General Assembly of United Nations has voted annually in favor of a proposal requesting the lift of economic, commercial and financial restrictions imposed by the United States of America against Cuba. It is expected that this year only Israel and Palau would vote against the resolution presented by Cuba.

The US restrictions prohibit the investment of US businessmen and companies in the Cuban boating industry, which affects its development in Cuba. We all know that most of the tourists in the Caribbean region come from the United States. If the US were to follow the request of the UN General Assembly, it is expected that Cuba would see the arrival of several tens of thousands of US boats, as well as thousands of sport fishermen and nautical sports lovers. I think the boating scene would be similar to that of the Bahamas.

Before the Bush Administration, the Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba hosted several regattas coming from Key West, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and New Orleans. In 1999, 232 sail boats and more than 1300 Americans participated in the Havana Cup Race.

Recent restrictions had not prevented us from keeping and even strengthening the friendship and cooperation between the Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba and the US sailing and boating community. On May 2009, the Sarasota Yacht Club planned to celebrate the Sarasota-Havana Regatta but failed to obtain the approval of the United States government. Our Yacht Club received plenty of congratulations from the Americans for our efforts to keep the strong friendship established before the Bush administration.

Please tell our readers about Cuba’s nautical events planned for 2010.

I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to invite all the readers of All At Sea to participate in the Castillo del Moro Regatta next May 20th, 2010 from Marina Hemingway to the entrance of Havana Bay. This regatta will celebrate the arrival of the Sarasota-Havana 100 American boats.

We would also like to invite you to participate in the celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Ernest Hemingway International Billfish Tournament from May 24th to the 29th.We would greatly appreciate all the support than you could offer us in order to pay homage to Ernest Hemingway, of one of the most prominent symbols of the friendship between the United States and Cuba. The Havana International Yacht Club created the tournament in 1950, and Hemingway accepted the proposal made by Cuban fishermen and friends for the tournament to take his name.

I would like to thank the staff of All At Sea for the opportunity granted here, and I invite you all to enjoy the beauties of the Cuban archipelago. Come visit the headquarters of the Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba, where you will be welcomed like friends and brothers.

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