In another historic move toward a repaired relationship between the United States and Cuba, President Barack Obama has approved the first American factory in Cuba in more than half a century. A company from Alabama that specializes in small tractor assembly will be making tractor dreams come true as early as the first quarter of 2017, according to the Associated Press. The construction and use of the factory is considered the "first significant U.S. business investment" in the region since Fidel Castro became Prime Minister in 1959.
"I have two countries that for 60 years have been in the worst of terms," Saul Berenthal, one half of the tractor manufacturing duo, tells the AP. "Anything I can do to bring to the two countries and the two people together is tremendously satisfying." Berenthal and his business partner, Horace Clemmons, were officially notified of the approval by federal officials last week. The move, in part, is aimed at generating additional "foreign investment" interest.
"Everybody wants to go to Cuba to sell something and that's not what we're trying to do," Clemmons adds. "We're looking at the problem and how do we help Cuba solve the problems that they consider are the most important problems for them to solve." In 2014, Raul Castro and Obama announced plans to move forward with a rejuvenated relationship between the two countries. The move, as this bit of tractor news makes quite clear, was the first step toward breaking down decades of animosity.
In the months since that announcement, a variety of companies (and Conan O'Brien) have stepped forward to give Cuba a taste of their American commerce. In November of last year, Sprint announced that they would gladly become the first American wireless carrier to offer roaming in Cuba. More important than that bragworthy move, however, is the fact that Vin Diesel and company are currently trying very hard to make sure that at least some of the forthcoming Furious 8 takes place in Cuba.