“We see so much potential in Cuba,” Blue told USA Today earlier this week. The Louisville businessman has been traveling to Cuba for years, even before the the U.S. began to lift the trade ban it had imposed on the communist island nation more than 50 years ago. “We’ve done this all over the world, so Cuba is just such a natural, close market. We’re big believers in the long-term potential there.”
According to the USA Today article, “Rodriguez will find artists in Cuba and funnel them to Blue’s BEST company, which will then serve as their agents for events in the U.S. and elsewhere.”
However, the article noted that commercial doors between the two countries are not yet entirely open. For example, Blue said his firm could also represent the Cuban artists in Cuba, but if one of the artists performs at an event paid for by the Cuban government, Blue could not receive any compensation for that because it would violate U.S. law.
Regulations passed by the Obama administration allow U.S. companies to hire Cuban workers, and lets those workers establish bank accounts in the U.S. to make it easier to get paid. However, said Carlos Saladrigas, a Cuban-American businessman in Miami and chairman of the Cuba Study Group, there are still matters to be tested.
“The difficulty is that in [the American] system, everything is legal unless it is prohibited,” Saladrigas told USA Today. “In Cuba, everything is prohibited unless it is made legal. That leaves Cubans in a legal limbo.”
Jonathan Blue has become one of the first U.S. company owners to sign a business deal with a Cuban company since trade relations began to normalize.