Related’s Jorge Perez among business delegates visiting Cuba

Havana, Cuba (Credit:  Krestavilis) (Inset: Jorge Perez, CEO of the Related Group)
Havana, Cuba (Credit: Krestavilis) (Inset: Jorge Perez, CEO of the Related Group)

President Obama’s diplomatic visit to Cuba this week has captured the minds of many Miamians, whose ties to the island nation are arguably stronger than those of any other city in the United States.

But while most of the trip so far has been handshakes, photo ops and speeches, a delegation of U.S. business magnates reportedly landed on the island to meet with their Cuban counterparts on Monday.

Among them: South Florida’s own billionaire condo king Jorge Perez, CEO of the Related Group, and Cuban-born billionaire Mike Fernandez, founder of private equity giant MBF Healthcare Partners.

Several business talks were held at a brewery/restaurant in Havana where U.S. executives, Cuban entrepreneurs and government officials from both nations mingled and networked, according to a Miami Herald report.

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President Obama also made an appearance and called for an embargo lift, along with reforms in Cuba like a dual-currency system and allowing professionals to start their own business, according to the report.

Perez, once an adviser of Bill Clinton’s on Cuban policy, has long stood for the relaxing of ties between the U.S. and the island. His parents are Cuban and though he was born in Argentina, he lived on the island nation as a child before his family fled during the revolution in 1959.

He’s even mentioned in past interviews with the Herald that he’d love to have a hand in redeveloping the island if possible. Foreign ownership of property in Cuba is still a tricky business, however, and only in 2011 did the government allow for its citizens to sell and buy property.

“There’s a lot of change happening in Cuba,” said Fernandez, according to the Herald report. “There’s been a quiet revolution over the last few years that some in our hometown don’t want to see it.” [Miami Herald] — Sean Stewart-Muniz