PANAMA CITY (Reuters) -- Panama voiced support for Cuba and
condemned U.S.-led international trade sanctions against the communist
nation on Wednesday when it signed a bilateral accord to promote mutual
"This agreement strengthens Panama's relationship with Cuba, and is a voice
of protest, of Panama's rejection of unilateral measures against the island,"
Panamanian Foreign Minister Jorge Ritter told a news conference.
Cuba has opened its state-regulated economy to private business. The
agreement will legally protect private Panamanian investment there from
nationalization or interference by the Cuban government.
"It is a solid bridge between the business communities of both countries,"
Cuban Foreign Investment Minister Ibrahim Ferradaz said.
Ferradaz added that the agreement and the rapid expansion of certain
economic sectors in Cuba, such as the booming tourism industry, were signs
that economic sanctions against Cuba had failed to deter investment in the
He noted in particular the U.S. Helms-Burton Law, which he said "failed
The Helms-Burton Law, which was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1996,
declared foreign investment in Cuba illegal. The law has met general
disapproval from the international business community.
Copyright 1999 Reuters.