MONTEVIDEO – The Uruguayan Senate approved a bill to authorize the executive power to waive off debt amounting to $31.5 million plus interest, incurred by Cuba in 1986.
Passed in the Senate by 21 votes in favor, the bill is now waiting to be presented in the Chamber of Deputies, and expected to be adopted around July.
In February, a few days before the end of his mandate, the government of Jose Mujica had proposed to cancel the debt that originated in the framework of a reciprocal credit agreement sponsored by the Latin American Integration Association.
The government and the parliament requested authorization for the Central Bank of Uruguay, or BCU, to transfer free of charge to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the debt owed by National Bank of Cuba and fully pardon it.
An Independent Party senator, Pablo Mieres, who voted in favor of the cancelation, told Efe the amount, which in December 2013 amounted to some $31.5 million, with interest currently stands at $55 million.
The bill, signed by the previous cabinet ministers, says the decision was made on “numerous instances of cooperation” received by Uruguay from Cuba “in various areas.”
Through “Operation Miracle,” for e.g., the Cubans had helped set up the “Jose Marti” eye center in Gustavo Saint Bois hospital in Montevideo.
The Cuban government had also settled the salaries of Cuban doctors and hospital professionals of “Jose Marti” itself until the responsibility of basic operating expenses were transferred to Uruguay in December 2011.
The bill text notes the debt is now “fully provisioned” on the balance sheets of BCU.