Mariel port, the first dedicated container terminal in Cuba received a $682m loan from the National Economic and Social Development Bank of Brazil (BNDES), nearly 80% of a total investment estimated at $957m. The container terminal is part of the Mariel Special Development Zone, an industrial park of 465.4 km sq inaugurated on 1 November 2013.
Rousseff and Castro led a delegation that traveled to the small port town about 40 km west of Havana that also included the Presidents of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, and Bolivia, Evo Morales, among other guests. “Brazil is proud to partner with Cuba in this first container port in the Caribbean,” Rousseff said in a brief statement after symbolically helping Castro cut the ribbon. “This terminal will be the main entrance and departure of Cuban foreign trade,” said Raul Castro.
The 800,000 teu-first phase of Mariel terminal, located north of the island and build by Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht, has a draught of 17.9 m and four super post-panamax cranes. Mariel will be dedicated to domestic imports and exports with all cargo operations, presently out of the city of Havana, moved to Mariel.
The port management is being handled by PSA International of Singapore.
Mariel, because of its location facing the US Florida coast, could become an important and strategic port if the US embargo and economic sanctions would be lifted, international port operators say. Although Cuban officials say that Mariel could also become a transhipment hub for the Caribbean area, once the Panama Canal expansion is completed, it would have to compete with several other ports of the region.