a one-party people's democratic
The President of the State Council is Mr
Fidel Castro Ruz, he has been in office
since the 3rd December 1976. Before that
he was Prime Minister since 1st January
The President is in charge of a 30 member
State Council and a Council of
There are 589 members in the National
Assembly who are elected by the Municipal
Assemblies for a five year term of
There is only one political party, the
Cuban Communist Party (PCC), with Mr
Castro as its first secretary.
The government is communist. the capital
is situated in Havana.
The constitution dates from 24th February
1976 and was modified in 1992.
There are 14 provinces and a special
The voting age is 16, and voting is done
by general election.
The judicial power is held by the Tribunal
The capital is situated in
discovered by Christopher Columbus in
It was colonized by Spain from 1511.
1517 : statute authorizing the importation
of black slaves
1762 : British occupation (one year)
1868 : first war of independence, called
the 'Ten Year War'
1869 : the first Republic of Cuba
1878 : re-establishment of Spanish
1886 : abolition of slavery
1895 : second war of independence
1898 : intervention of the United States
against Spain. Cuban independence.
Cuba became an independent republic on
20th May 1902 after the defeat of Spain.
It remained closely dependent on the
Americans both diplomatically and
economically. Its judicial system is based
on both Spanish and American law with
elements of communist theory.
From 1925 to 1933 parity was established
between the peso and the dollar.
At this time the country was ruled by the
dictator Gerardo Machado
1934 : coup led by Fulgencio Batista y
1953 : first offensive by partisans of
Fidel Castro, who overthrew Batista on 1st
February 1960 : first trade agreement with
the Soviet Union
19th October 1960 : American embargo on
trade with Cuba
17th April 1961 : the Bay of Pigs, the
American landing was a failure
October 1962 : the island is blockaded by
the USA to deny entry to Soviet
the official creation of the Cuban
1972 : Cuba joins the CAEM, a group of
Marxist countries and becomes a member of
Comecon, a communist trade block
12th October 1991 : the 4th Congress of
the Cuban Communist Party was held in
Santiago. Fidel Castro established Marxist
orthodoxy on the island.
March 1993 : Fidel Castro is re-elected
for a five year term of office as
July 1993 : the dollar is legalized in
February 1993 : the Iranian Minister of
Foreign Affairs makes an official visit to
Cuba to discuss continuing the supply of
petrol to the island
4th March 1994 : Canada (André
Ouellet) agrees to give aid to Cuba
5th September 1995 : Cuba concludes a
trade agreement with Russia to exchange
1.7 million tons of sugar against 3
million tons of petrol
February 1996 : 2 civil aviation Cessnas
belonging to America are shot down by 2
1996 : Fidel Castro meets Pope Jean Paul
II in Rome
November 1999 : the Ibero-American summit
was held in Havana.
- Geographical situation
the biggest island in the West Indies,
encircled by the Mexican Gulf, the
Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean at about
180 kms from the south of Florida.
It is surrounded by over 1500 small
islands, e.g. the archipelegos of
Camarguey and Cannaeros, Sabana and the
Jardines de la Reina.
biggest river is the Rio Canto which is
240 kms long.
There are several mountains in the east
and the Sierra Maestra range stretches
over the south east of the island. The
highest peak is the Pico Turquino at 1,994
total surface of the country is 110,920
square kilometers. There are 3,735 kms of
Guantanamo naval base was conceded for
perpetuity to the United States in
It is situated on the south eastern part
of the island, covers 1,116 sq. kms. and
holds 2,500 Americans.
The lease can only be ended by mutual
agreement or if the Americans leave the
is the biggest country in the Caribbean,
but it is classified as a poor
It is a developing agricultural and
industrial nation, which suddenly lost its
economic aid from the ancient Soviet bloc.
In 1989 Cuba was doing 72% of its external
trade with the Soviet Union and 90% with
Its relations with the Comecon concerned
exchanges of merchandise but also means of
financing and long term projects.
These agreements disappeared with the
dissolution of the Eastern
from the World Bank, the IMF and the IBD
by the United States, Cuba is obliged to
borrow at extremely high short term rates
This situation has been made even more
detrimentary by the fact that the market
value of the main sources of export
revenue, sugar and nickel, are lower than
that of petrol which is the main item
The tripling of the price of petrol and
the fall in the international market value
of sugar (in spite of a good harvest,
+20%), which is still the main Cuban
product exported, have created a gulf in
the deficit of the balance of current
operations by over 100% compared to
This deficit is equal to the amount of
foodstuffs imported into the island.
(The lack of petrol in the country means
people have to use bicycles; 50% of the
buses can't run because of lack of fuel
and spare parts.)
that the value of nickel has held up and
the rise in the exports of tobacco have
partly compensated in the loss in the
country is counting heavily on the
developement and the expansion of tourism,
its revenues rose by 30% in 1999 (in 1998
the income was 1.8 billion dollars for 1.4
Tourism is the principal source of foreign
currency together with the money sent in
by emigrants to their families.
campaign to economize energy and the
growing use of natural gas have helped in
limiting petrol importation.
This will to increase national production
is aimed at all the sectors to try and
It is a strategy which necessitates the
renewal of existing installations and
factories and the creation of new
exportation of non-traditional products
has increased (e.g. pharmaceuticals),
particularly towards the Caribbean where
relations with the Caricom (a grouping of
15 Caribbean countries in a common market
with a common custom tariff) have been
with Washington remain a deciding factor
for the economic future of Cuba, still
under American embargo.
The re-opening at the end of 1999 of some
flights from New York and Los Angeles (for
the moment it only involves some charter
flights), then the decision taken in June
2000 to authorize some limited sales of
American food and medicines to Havana,
seem to forecast a progressive lifting of
relative improvement in relations should
encourage the flow of foreign investments
which the country needs to loosen external
A liberal regime to repatriate profits and
dividends makes investment attractive,
particularly since it can be done in all
the sectors, except for health, education
and national defense.
But the slowness of the structural
reforms, which are indispensable in
domains like price fixing or exchange
rates, will hold back Cuba's economic
developement in the middle term.
banking sector has been modernized and an
effort has been made to improve the
management and the efficiency of public
the Cuban regime authorized people to work
A few months later it gave Cubans the
right to own dollars.
In October 1994 it was made legal to sell
agricultural products on free markets.
Nowadays, the peasants have to give 80% of
their production to the official market
and they can sell the other 20% for their
developement of individual enterprise,
which concerned particularly the creation
of restaurants, has slowed down.
The dollarization of a part of the Cuban
economy has worsened the inequality
between those who have access to dollars
and the rest of the population who survive
with difficulty on Cuban pesos.
forbidden for foreign companies to employ
The company has to pay the employee's
salary, in dollars, to Acorec, a State
organism, which pays the employee in
people are often obliged to have two
sources of income or two jobs.
of trade (billions $)
debt (billions $)
power parity (PPP)
of GNP per capita
with PPP +$30000pa
with PPP +$15000pa
with PPP -$5000 pa
exported are sugar, nickel, shells,
tobacco, medical products, citrus fruits
Trade partners are : Russia 15%, Canada
9%, China 8%, Egypt 6%, Spain 5%, Japan
4%, Morocco 4%.
and increase exportation, the Cuban
government has been developing Free Trade
Zones since 1996. These zones have
attracted companies specialized in
commercial activities and services.
The aim is now to create industrial
Three zones already exist, Berroa, Wajay
and Mariel and a fourth one, Cienfuegos is
envisaged. For the moment there are 317
foreign companies installed in these free
zones which have generated a turnover of
50 million dollars in exports.
billion's worth of goods are imported,
these are mainly petrol, foodstuff,
machines and chemical products.
The main part of the imports come from
Europe 51,28% (Spain 22%, France 11%),
Latin America 17.2%, Japan 0.9% and Canada
duties are among the lower average of
those practised in Latin America, but the
system of price fixing by the state (by
mutiplying with a coefficient of 2.4)
makes the imported products very
agricultural reform dismantled 300 big
Some 4,000 co-operatives and 100,000 small
private properties which have a
usufructuary right to the land provide 67%
of the production (tobacco, rice, coffee
While the food crops, mostly rice,
potatoes and maize, remain stable and are
still not sufficient to feed the
population, the sugar crop, which is the
country's main export product, increased
by 20% in 1999.
But this result must be put into context :
the sugar production had dropped in 1997
and 1998 due to bad climatic
The 1999 sugar production remains 10%
lower than the 1996 one.
early 1990s the lack of petrol, fertilizer
and tyres made the labouring of the land
very difficult. Normally 20% of the
surface should be replanted every year,
but there has not been sufficient
The plants have grown old and need a good
dose of fertilizer.
The present harvest is approximately 30
tons per hectare, while in Peru for
instance, the harvest is 100 tons per
agricultural sector employs 23% of the
working population and contributes 62% of
28% of Cuban territory is
cocoa, sugar cane and tobacco are the main
crops. In all 8,960 square kilometers are
33% of the farmed land, 1,100,000
hectares, are devoted to sugar
The sugar sector (the Minza, Dept of
Sugar) is in reality an economy within the
- there are over 156 sugar factories, 113
in working order, but all urgently need to
- the sector has tens of thousands of
train wagons and more than 7000 kms of
- 500,000 people are employed in the
sector and at least 1.5 million Cubans
depend on it.
Today the goverment is encouraging
research in productivity and
diversification rather than just pushing
Solutions have to be found concerning the
inadequacies of the production system,
over the last years there has been both
overproduction (particularly in 1998)
while certain parts of the market were out
The Altadis group, which is a merger
between the Seita and Taacalera (French
and Spanish tobacco companies) have taken
over 50% of the Cuban cigar distribution
of the Corporacion Habanos SA, creating a
new company Habanos SA, which will
consolidate the commercialization of the
Havana Club (50% belonging to the group
Pernod Ricard and 50% to Cubaron the Cuban
producer) have sold 15 million bottles in
1999 making the brand the highest selling
brand of spirits in the world for the last
and beans are grown as well as several
fruit : pineapple, avocados, bananas,
watermelon and citrus fruit. Rum and honey
are also produced.
(in millions of tons, head, m³ for
Fishing : essential for the
country, an average of 100,000 tons fished
which includes lobster, crayfish and
shrimps which have an international
There is a real potential in
: there are forests of mahogany, oak,
pine, palm trees and ebony.
Forest covers 17% of the country, but not
much of it is exploited.
industrial activities are : petrol
refining, textile manufacturing, chemical
products, paper and wood products,
fertilizers and agricultural
energy sector petrol extraction is a State
priority, as is the developement of other
natural resources,such as gas and
to new foreign investment in the form of
joint-ventures, petrol production has
increased by 25%, reaching 3 million
Cuban crude oil is heavy and sulphurous
and is used in the electricity power
stations, covering more than half the
island's electricity needs.
The oilfields in the Mexican Gulf, in
spite of their depth, should be producing
80% of their potential by 2005.
In 1999 local petrol also covered 100% of
the needs in cement production which
reached 2 million tons.
government also wants to modernize its
thermal power stations and build new
They are also modernizing eight Soviet
units of 100 megawatt electrical
production and three Czech units of 125
the sixth biggest producer of nickel in
the world. It has the biggest open
deposits in the world. The production of
nickel was 70,000 tons in 1999.
Cuba also covers 12% of the world's market
needs in cobalt.
to the Cuban committee 'estadal de
estadisticas' the industrial sector
represents 40% of the global social
major exception to the setbacks in Cuban
industry, such as the nickel factory in
Moa which is not used, the nuclear power
station in Jaragua which was abandonned
after it was built, the Cienfuegos
refinery which is nearly completed and
which will not be exploited, is the
pharmaceutical industry which is of a high
Since its revival in the early 90s, the
tourist sector has created over 250,000
jobs directly and indirectly. It would
appear today to be the motivating force of
change on the island.
In 1999 Cuba recorded a 13% growth in
tourism, the WTO elected Cuba the "country
of the year 1999" for the Caribbean due to
the increase in the number of
The Cuban authorities have made a lot of
effort in their promotion to attract a
more diversified clientele, particularly
Tourism revenue represents 53% of the
country's foreign currency.
Tourism generates infrastructural needs in
transport, telecommunications and water
The number of airline companies flying to
Cuba is constantly on the increase, there
were 48 in 1997, 52 in 98 and 57 in
Tourism also stimulates national
production in industry and
Local production now covers 51% of the
needs, compared to only 18% in 1990.
In 2000 Cuba should go over the 2 million
tourist mark, 1.6 million visited the
country in 1999 - a result which placed
Cuba at the forefront of the Caribbean
Canadians make up the biggest number
(276,300) followed by Germans
Cuba is hoping to receive as many as 7
million tourists by 2010, this idea is
creating a frenzy of hotel building. At
the moment there are 34,000 rooms, managed
by 21 hotel chains, 17 of which are
foreign, these foreign chains are more and
more numerous on the Cuban market (Sol
Melia, Tryp, Riu and Iberostar (Spanish),
Accor, Club Med, Pasea (French), Golden
Tulip (Dutch), LTI (German), Sandals,
Superclubs (Jamaican), Leisure
All these operators agree that Cuba is the
destination of the future.
sectors are also developing.
The State is trying hard to modernize
telecommunications and a 500 - 800 million
dollar investment programme is underway,
with 500,000 replacements and new
estate sector is progressively opening up
number and breakdown of foreign companies
installed in Cuba (on 2nd March 2000)
Spain 191, Panama 112, Canada 48, Italy
41, Mexico 38, France 32, Germany 20,
Holland 17, Venezuela 15, Virgin Islands
15, Japan 13, Britain 10, Switzerland
companies installed in Cuba:
Telecommunications : Alcatel
Airline companies: Air France, AOM
Foodstuffs : Pernod Ricard, Bourgoin,
Agriculture : Seita/Altadis
Pharmacy, Agrochemicals : Aventis
Tourism : Accor, Pansea, Club Med
Energy : Total, Elf, Babcock,
Trading : Sucres & Drenrées,
Construction : Bouygues
Banks : BNP, Société
Automobile : Peugeot,
are 11,200,000 inhabitants in Cuba.
The population density is 99 inhabitants
per sq. km.
78% of the population is urban.
Havana, the capital has a population of
The population is originally Spanish but
over half of the population has black
51% halfcasts, 37% whites, 11% black, 1%
- 0 - 14
year olds : 21.65%,
-15 - 64 year olds : 69.12%,
- 65 years and over : 9.23%.
life expectancy : 76.19 years
growth 1997-2015 (%) : +0.4
infant mortality (%) : 0.7
energy consumption per capita TOE :
population without drinking water (% pop)
population without sanitary installations
(% pop) : 34
n° of doctors for 1000 inhabitants :
telephone lines per 1000 inhabitants :
mobile telephones per 1000 inhabitants :
private cars per 1000 inhabitants : 16
n° of computers per 1000 inhabitants
adult illiteracy (%) : 4
secondary schooling/age sector (%) :
graduates/age sector (%) : 12
The number of people of working age (15 to
65 years) is 8.1 million, of which 5.5
million are active (84% of them in
industries and services).
Spanish is the official language, but
English and French is also spoken in most
of the hotels and on tourist sites.
of the population is Roman Catholic (85%),
there are a few other minorities.
- Weights, measures &
electricity is 110 volts single-phase with
American plugs which have flat prongs.
Take an adaptor with you.
The metric system is used.
Cuban currancy is the peso. 10FF = 1.3
Cuban pesos (PC)
1 Peso = 1 $US approxi.
You don't need to have pesos as everything
can be paid in American dollars, and the
prices are marked in dollars. The peso is
only used in places reserved for
Take small dollar notes with you, for
You can change your French francs into
dollars in most of the hotels.
Not many banks are open to tourists.
Credit cards are accepted nearly
everywhere so long as they are not from an
American bank, travellers cheques or a
credit card from American Express will be
It is forbidden to take pesos out of
Don't change your money in the
- Main towns
population of 2,600,000.
San Cristobal de La Habana, was named
capital of Cuba during a mass on 25th July
In spite of all Cuba's difficulties,
Havana remains an enchanting town, with
the beauty of its baroque palaces and its
colonial houses, and the kindness of the
You have to look at it from Morro point
when the sun is setting and the pastel
coloured façades on the Malecon,
which is a perfect curve running 8 kms
round the seafront, glow with the
reflection of the bright red sky.
The square around the Cathedral is
surrounded with 18th century buildings, it
is the centre of Havana life. Unesco has
declared the old town a World Heritage
site, the ex-managing director of Unesco,
M'Bow described Havana in this way :
"churches and convents, palaces and
stately houses make up an ensemble in
which the harmony of forms, the bright
colours and the boldness of the
architecture combine to create an
Here the Sevillian arcades open up to palm
trees, the bars at the Castilian windows
are entwined and curved, the ironmongery
on the balconies and the doorways with
their columns jostle with elaborate
arcades made of exotic woods."
On the Prado, the wide street running
through the town where the most
magnificent houses of Havana are situated,
the Capitol, an exact copy of the one in
Washington, and the American cars from the
1950s are a constant reminder that one of
this last strongholds of communism is only
a bit more than 150 kms off the coast of
Museo de la Revolucion : built in 1922,
this old palace of the dictator Batista is
now the biggest history museum in
the Palacio de Valle, residence of a
supremely rich Spaniard, offers a
surprising mixture of baroque, kitsch and
Nestled between the legendary Sierra
Maestra and the Atlantic, Santiago has an
oriental feel to it.
The historical centre of the town which
sits in a magnificent bay surrounded by
mountains, contains the superb Casa de
Diego Velasquez, dating from 1522, the
Bacardi museum and numerous palaces,
museums, churches and picturesque narrow
The heart of Santiago is the Cespedes
Parque, under the eye of the angel on the
cathedral. Santiago was where the
conquistadors started out from and also
the cradle of the Revolucion.
: a peninsula at only about three hours
bus ride away from Havana, the Varadero
beach stretches over 20 kms and the
temperature of its transparent sea varies
between 23° and 28°.
A third of Cuba's hotels are built on this
strip of sand.
Nothing much remains from the old town,
only some coloured wooden houses hidden
among the hibiscus and the icaqiers.
On the sea front the neo-classical palace
of Dupont de Nemours bears witness to the
craziness of the American billionaire and
the extravagance of the epoch.
: the old sugar capital, 42 kms from
Varadero, has an interesting historical
centre as well as the Cuevas de Blamar :
caves 2 kms deep with an underground river
running through them.
Jammed in between two bridges, the Plaza
de la Vigia proudly displays its Sauto
theatre where great personalities, amongst
which Sarah Bernhard, have performed. Next
to it the Palaccio Del Junco, in
neo-colonial style, is painted bright
: a quiet sleepy little town, which is
considered to be one of the most beautiful
colonial towns in Latin America.
Do a cultural and historical walking tour
: the plaza Mayor, all shades of sorbet,
with its palm garden, the convents (San
Francisco...), the churches (Santa Ana,
Santissima Trinidad...), the museums
(palacio Cantero, palacio Brunet and the
: a 22 km long island situated 177 kms
south of Havana. Its corals and shipwrecks
have made it a popular diving
towns are : Holguin, Marianao,
Camagüey, Santa Clara, Nueva Gerona,
Moa, Baracoa, Bayamo,
La Caloma, Pinar del Rio, Sancti Spiritus,
Ciego de Avila, Las Tunas, Guantanamo.
climate is sub-tropical with temperatures
from 18° to 35°C.
The sea temperature goes from 24 to
The dry season is from November to May and
the rainy season from June to October.
Light winds keep the climate cool.
The best season to visit Cuba is from the
end of November to mid-April to avoid the
On average once every two year there are
hurricanes on the east coast in September
averages (max/min) :
...........F ..........M .......A
........M ..........J ..........J
.........A ...........S .........O
28/18 ...28/18 ...29/19 ...29/20 ...29/21
...31/22 ...32/23 ...32/23 ...32/23
...31/22 ...29/21 ...29/20
.............26/18 ...26/18 ...27/19
...29/21 ...30/22 ....31/23 ...32/24
...32/24 ...31/24 ...29/23 ...27/21
...........F ..........M .......A
........M ..........J ..........J
.........A ...........S .........O
..........26 .......26 .......26
.........27 ........28 .......28
..........29........ 28 .......27
.............25 .........25 ..........26
.......26 ........27 ........27 ........28
.......29 ..........29 .........28
- Fauna and flora
are mosquitoes on the coast in the
Coconut crabs are very noisy and can keep
you awake if you are sleeping near the
beach, but they are not dangerous.
Other animals on the island include boars,
deer, crocodiles which have been bred
there, iguanas (which are not
There are no poisonous snakes.
Birds include pelicans, parrots, the
Tocororo (the national bird which has the
same colours as the flag) and frigate
Sea life include crayfish, tuna,
barracuda, urchins, turtles and sponges.
: Cuba has one of the richest island
flora in the world.
Over half is endemic : royal palm trees,
coconut trees, eucalyptus, pine trees,
cedars, mahogany trees, baobabs, mango
trees, orange trees, sisal, sugar
There are rare flowers : orchids and
mariposa, Cuba's national flower, white
and heavily perfumed, which was a symbol
of rebellion and purity during the wars of
- Working in the country
It is advisable to take Spanish lessons or
improve your level.
The possibility of finding a good job will
depend on how well you speak the
There are several language institutes in
France which can quickly bring you up to a
to be completed if you are working for a
French company :
If your employer is a French or
international company you don't have to
worry about formalities.
Usually the administrative services deal
with all the formalities concerning the
Unless you are the only representative of
your company in the country (sales
representative, or in charge of a liaising
office ...), in this case you will have to
deal with the formalities
for your departure and looking for a
You can start searching for information by
writing to French associations established
in the country, economic expansion
services, commercial services of foreign
banks in France and French banks
French consulate usually has a service
dealing with jobs and training, student
grants and reinsertion in France, and they
can put you in touch with local
enterprises who are willing to accept
also in the Practical Guide for the
French Chamber of Commerce also offers
information about the job market, the most
dynamic sectors of the economy, and edits
a bulletin for French companies and local
You could publish a job application in
Trade Commission in Cuba, or the CFCE in
Paris can furnish you with a list of
French companies established in
about the country are usually available in
the cultural service of the Cuban Embassy
however prepare your trip in a more
precise manner by making a personal
appointment with the Franco-Cuban Chamber
of Commerce in order to complete your
information and get professional
you are hunting for information you could
contact companies directly by sending a
spontaneous candidacy proposing your
international departments of the Chambers
of Commerce and Industry often have
information about the country
Directories and useful dossiers from the
country can be helpful in getting
information on sectors of activity and the
local economic life.
to find job offers :
In the French press (Le Monde, Le France
Soir, Figaro, Moniteur du Bâtiment,
expat magazine ...)
for French companies sending people
international press, in nearly all the
bigger dailies there exists a page or a
selection of job offers
(The European, The Guardian, Vacature,
Coriere della Sera, The Geneva Tribunal
recruitment bureaus in Europe, and interim
companies sometimes offer international
are several data banks specializing in job
offers abroad on Internet which are easily
your CV and covering letter
dossier is a determining element towards
being recruited, it is the first step
towards obtaining an interview.
should be very clear, typewritten,
detailled, preferably written in the
language of the country and it should be
accompanied by a handwritten covering
Certain countries do not accord much
importance to handwriting, but it is
advisable to write the letter by hand
whichever country it is addressed
company is French or the subsidiary of a
French company, the CV and the covering
letter should still be written in the
language of the country.
forget to attach a recent photo,
preferably one where you are
CV should be detailled, and have the
addresses and phone numbers of
ex-employers on it so that the company can
easily verify the main points of your
This can save you from sending a pile of
photocopies and documents with it.
You can always present these documents
later during an interview if
are thinking of sending a false CV, you
should know that a study from the Florian
Mantione Institute shows that 45% of the
employers check up on CVs, that 34% of the
candidates are eliminated during this
verification and that 60% of the
verifications are made with the previous
Whatever your reasons for 'adapting' your
CV to suit the ad, be warned that it won't
help you during the interview and could
even cause you prejudice.
questions to ask yourself before an
What exactly is the job ?
What is the length of the contract ?
Is it for the whole family or with
bachelor conditions ?
What kind of life will you have locally
Have you thought about when you get back,
how you will manage financially to fit in
Do you have the necessaries qualities to
be an expatriate ?
you need to succeed :
emotional stability (so you can react
quickly in any situation)
autonomy (you can make decisions on your
own in any circumstance)
being mobile and being available for your
job, being able to relocate quickly
being good at meeting people (don't forget
that the expatriate is also an ambassador
for his country whether in his
professional or his social life.
being adaptable (you can easily adapt to
different cultures, climates and life
being able to accept and understand
different cultures and cultural
tolerance and respect of other people's
way of life and way of living should be a
natural part of your character.
family and recruiting :
Your partner should have the same
ambitions as you.
It is often an important factor in
choosing an expatriate.
In fact some recruitment bureaus or big
firms when they are recruiting, specially
for long term projects, insist on having
an interview with the wife to check that
there are no problems in the couple which
could get worse abroad and maybe disturb
Companies often propose that the whole
family goes together so that a good family
balance is kept.
the recruiting :
Punctuality and precision are
Be on time for your
dressed for your interview, whatever kind
of job you are trying for.
Your appearance will weigh with the
interviews are often very short but can
last several hours if your candidacy is
interesting, depending on the post
offered, and if you have to do any
psychotechnical (graphological analysis)
or aptitude tests.
careful not to appear pretentious about
your know-how and don't exaggerate your
forget that nowadays the job market is a
chronic problem nearly all over the world,
so take an interview appointment
seriously, jobs are not easy to come
your real competence, your ease of
adaption, your mobility, your ability to
work in a team, your readiness to pool
company and the expatriate :
A lot of countries abroad like to
have, and to show that they have,
expatriates on their staff.
International personnel often bring in
experience and knowledge which can be very
advantageous for a company.
- Salary requirements :
If the candidate doesn't know the
prospective country, it isn't always easy
to negotiate a salary, especially if the
amount has already been mentionned on the
However, there is nothing to stop you from
showing your previous salary and from
discussing the salary offered. The
recruiting agent or the employer may
appreciate knowing what for you is the
It is often difficult to compare salaries
with European ones.
The standard of living that you find
abroad is not always similar to the one
you know in Europe and sometimes if the
salary is much higher you will find that
the cost of living is also.
This is one of the reasons, and there are
several, including social security
conditions, why it is better to go abroad
with a European company.
French companies sending people overseas
budget for differences in the cost of
They can reassure the expatriate that his
purchasing power will at least be the same
as in France.
The 'basic French salary' can be paid
either in France or abroad, it is usually
a choice, and an allowance is paid for
living expenses (accomodation,
This compensation is based on the cost of
living in the country.
(see the page in the expatriate
If you are employed locally you will have
to pay taxes in the country.
If you have an international contract your
salary can be negotiated free of
In some countries income tax is deducted
at source by the company.
- company car - other fringe benefits
It is nearly impossible to negotiate for a
company house if you are employed
Getting a car depends on your job and your
level in the company.
In a local company it will be very
difficult to negotiate a paid return
ticket to France every year.
There again, if you are an expatriate
working for a French company you will get
fringe benefits, a house, car, travel
allowance, return flights to France
Usually international contracts give 15
days leave in France every 3
These are the local ones with all the
attenuating advantages and disadvantages
if you are working for a local
The expatriate is often considered as an
immigrant and has to deal himself with the
administrative side the expatriate does
not have to worry about the formalities
concerning the police, customs,
immigration, income tax, visa or consular
French or European companies abroad always
have an administrative department which
completes all the formalities for its
personnel and deals with any problems
which could arise.
companies remain subject to the laws of
the country in which they are
in the country :
In Law 77, the conditions for setting up a
company are clearly defined and the
"foreign investor must bring in know-how,
financing or new markets" and if the
investment project does not correspond to
this definition, it has no chance of being
To open a branch of your company in Cuba
you have to justify your commercial
relations with Cuba for at least the last
three years and your company must have
already existed for at least five
If these conditions are fulfilled, you
have to apply to the Cuban Chamber of
Commerce who have the National Register of
branches and commercial agencies in
Your dossier will be analysed by the
Mincex (the Dept of External Trade) which
will deliver a licence by decree. This
licence is valid for 5 years and has to be
renewed every three years.
For French nationals it is obligatory to
get a tourist card.
get this document from the consulate or
from the Office Soleil de Cuba,
41 bd Montparnasse, 75006 Paris, tel 01 53
63 39 39.
You will have to show your passport which
has to be valid for at least six months
after your return date.
The card costs about 150 FF.
also apply for one by writing and by
sending a copy of the first four pages of
your passport, a stamped addressed
envelope and a covering letter indicating
your travel dates to Cuba, plus a cheque
for the sum of 17 euros.
visitors or people staying with Cubans
have to apply for a visa (which cost
The Cuban immigration makes you book and
pay for two nights in a hotel.
You also have to pay an airport tax of $15
when leaving Cuba.
in the country :
The health system is totally state
Some hospitals have ultra-modern equipment
and good quality staff.
However it is difficult to find medicine
on the island and it is better to take
along with you a basic first aid box with
any medicines that you generally need
There is a service reserved for foreigners
at the hospital Cira Garcia in
obligatory or even necessary.
Just make sure you are up to date on your
usual vaccines : tetanos, polio
are 7,636 kms between Havana and
The flight time is approximately 9 hours
and 40 minutes.
International flights arrive and take off
from both Havana and Varadero.
which have regular flights to Cuba
de Aviacion, four direct flights a week
between Paris and Havana, Holguin and
(tel 01 53 63 23 23)
- AOM : 4 direct flights a week between
Paris and Havana and Varadero
(tel 0803 00 12 34)
(Paris-Havana return flights from 3912 FF
in economy class).
- Iberia : 2 flights a day via Madrid
(cost approx. 4000 FF return).
- VIASA : Tuesdays and Saturdays via
- Air France : 5 direct flights a week
between Paris and Havana
company Cubana de Aviacion proposes
internal flights for an average cost of
400 FF per trip.
Transport is a problem in Cuba because of
the lack of petrol and spare parts.
The roads are in good condition and the
system of roadsigns are the same as in
There are a total of 26,477 kms of roads,
14,477 of which are tarmac and 12,000 are
gravel or dirt roads.
company Viazul has an air-conditionned bus
service between the larger towns.
There are 12,623 kms of railway
are 240 kms of waterways.
The ports are Cienfuegos, Havana,
Manzanillo, Mariel, Matanzas, Nuevitas,
Santiago de Cuba.
The merchant navy has 48 ships in all plus
24 which are under Panama, Cypriot,
Maltese and Mauritian flags.
and bicycles are used in town - there is
hardly any public transport.
differences with France are - 5 hours in
winter and -6 hours in summer.
phone Cuba from France dial 00 53 + the
town code + n°
Havana : 7, Santiago : 2, Vinales : 8,
Varadero : 5
phone France from Cuba dial 00 119
acquire a pre-paid Etecsa card for $10
which gives you four minutes (or $20)
which you can use in the Etecsa
you can phone or fax from the hotels.
Letters take approx. 3 weeks.
are 229,000 phones in the country, that is
only 2 per 100 people, it is one of the
least developed networks in the
are two national television channels :
Lunes and Cuba Vision.
stations : AM 150, FM 5.
There are 2.14 million radios in the
local newspapers are the Trabajadores and
(which exists in a French version on
01 126.96.36.199 at the Cuban Embassy in
There are 9 airports: Havana, Varadero,
Holguin, Santiago, Cayo Largo, Isla de
Pinos, Rio Oriente,
Ciego de Avila, Vertientes and a 10th is
being built in Cayo Coco.
The José-Marti airport is half an
hour out of the centre of
to keep 150 F to pay the airport tax when
- Car rental
way to get around is to rent a car.
It is better to rent it before you leave
France as locally the demand is usually
greater than the supply.
There is no problem with petrol for a
tourist, the CUPET-CIMEX stations, which
are reserved for tourists, are open 24
hours a day and 7 days a week throughout
Petrol costs about 7 F a liter.
Rental costs between 500 and 600 dollars a
known rental agent is Havanauto, which is
at the airport, but there are other
agencies in the bigger towns like Havana.
You can contact them from the tourist
offices which are situated in most of the
possibility is to use a particular,
a private car which you can rent for about
$70 a day. You can identify a
particular by its number plates : a
normal short trip in one costs $8 against
$12 in an official black taxi. The relics
of pre-Castro, these private vehicles are
now part of the national
: take out a comprehensive insurance,
otherwise the guarantee deposit is very
- Hotels & restaurants
the Cuban hotel structures are expanding
Some hotels are far from perfect, but
their shortcomings are easily overlooked
in view of the beauty of the island and
the hospitality of the Cubans.
Some hotels in smaller towns, like
Triniday or Camaguay cannot be compared
with international hotels,
they are extremely simple.
Bed and breakfast :
a good cheap formula which helps you meet
To reserve a room from Paris, go to the
agency Roots Travel, tel 01 42 74 07 07,
hotels worth recommending:
choose a hotel which is part of the
Habagnuanex chain (tel 7 33 95 85) which
specializes in restoring palaces and
historical residences in the centre of the
- Florida , in the heart of Habana Vieja,
this ancient building has just been
renovated. 25 comfortable rooms around a
Calle Obispo, esq.
Acoba, Habana Vieja tel. 7 62 41 27
- Hotel Melia Cohiba, the most luxurious
and the most expensive, modern with lots
of white marble, pool, sauna, boutiques,
tel 537 33 36 36
- Hotel Sevilla, on the Prado, colonial
style with a Moorish influence, superb
restaurant on the roof, 192 rooms
tel 537 33 85 60
- Hotel Nacional, in the Vedado district,
10 minutes from the centre,opulent
colonial style, big tropical garden, view
on the port, 2 pools, tennis, 490
Calle O, esq.21 tel 537 33 35 64
- Convento de Santa Clara, an old convent
from the colonial period reconverted into
a charming hotel.
Calle Cuba 610 between Luz and Sol, in
- la Casa Granda tel 53 2 268 66 00,
overlooks the Cespedes park in the centre
of town, 55 rooms
- Hotel Santiage de Cuba tel 53 226 86
666, a modern tower, pool, 302
best is a bed and breakfast, otherwise
there are :
Las Cuevas, bungalows
: Los Jazmines tel. 8 29 32 65
Rancho San Vicente tel 8 29 32
the Villa Guama tel 2 59 71 25
: El Castillo tel 2 14 21 03
: Melia Varadero tel 535 66 70 13
Melia Las Americas tel 535 66 76 00
Hotel Bella Costa tel 535 66 72
The tourist office will reserve a table
for you ; you can eat excellent crayfish,
sea food, tuna, turtle, pork and beef and
There are also restaurants set up in
private houses (paladares), the
only place where you can eat cheaply (from
$6), but they can only seat 12 people at
- Bedeguita del Medio, a small typical
restaurant which was the favorite meeting
place of several famous people like
Hemingway or Ava Gardner.
Calle Empedrado 207, Habana Vieja, tel 61
- El Patio, the gourmet restaurant in the
hotel Novotel Miramar, which has the
reputation of being the best in Havana
- El Ajjibe,in the Miramar district, this
restaurant is renowned for its large
variety of different chicken dishes,
avenida 7 between 24 y 26, Miramar, tel 24
- The Floridita, considered one of the
seven best bars in the world, sea food
Calle Obispo 557, esq. Monserrate, Habana
Vieja tel 63 10 63.
- El Tocororo, one of the best restaurants
in the country
- Las Americas, in the old villa of the
Dupont de Nemours family
- Marina Gaviota,the crayfish
- Your suitcase
is advisable to pack light clothing in
cotton or linen as it's very hot, but take
along a sweater or jacket for the evenings
and the air-conditioning.
It will also come in useful if you take a
tour in the mountains.
Pack a good sun cream and an anti-mosquito
If you are planning on walking trips take
good walking shoes.
Business men will be expected to wear a
suit and tie for meetings.
January : New Year's Day, but also
- 1st May : Labour Day
- the carnival of Cuba, which usually
takes place in Santiago or Havana during
the week of 20th July
- 25th, 26th, 27th July : Day of the
- 10th October : beginning of the War of
- 25th December : Christmas Day
All the larger towns have CUPET-CIMEX
petrol stations which are reserved for
You can pay by credit card or dollars. I
liter of petrol costs approx.
If you should have an accident contact
immediately the French Embassy and the
(tel : 33 88 59/33 80 87)
which is the only local representative of
the different foreign insurance
The Cuban banking system :
Previously the Banco Nacional was nearly
the only banking participant in the Cuban
With the opening up of the Cuban economy
and the economic transformations which
accompanied it the authorities were
obliged to reform the existing banking
system and create new banks.
The constitution of a more sophisticated
banking system forced the separation of
the functions of the central bank and the
commercial bank (both which had been
covered before by the Banco Nacional).
The Banco Central de Cuba was created with
the double role of regulating and
supervising the existing financial
The present Cuban banking system comprises
the following banks :
- the Banco Metropolitano : specializing
in private accounts, it works with the
diplomatic corps and foreign residents,
and with Cubans having foreign
- the Banco Popular de Ahorro and the
Banco de Credito y Comercio BANDEC :
specializes both in a private clientele
- the BFI : specializes in the sectors of
tourism, industry and distribution
- the BICSA : specializes in the sectors
of agriculture and energy
- the Banco de Inversiones : acts as a
council to Cuban enterprises which
generate foreign currency
- the Banco Exterior de Cuba : specializes
in the financing of Cuban exports
- the Banco Nacional de Cuba : specializes
in the priority sectors of the Cuban
economy : petrol, foodstuffs, chemical
Cuban law does not allow foreign banks to
open branches or to create banks in joint
At present foreign banks are only in Cuba
in the form of a representative office
TRhe two French banks represented in the
country are the BNP and the
is a French school in Havana:
Ecole française de la Havane
Calle 184, no. 1510
Siboney, La Habana, Cuba.
: (53) 33 62 64. Fax (53) 33 14 39
Pre-schooling, from 3 years old ; primary,
secondary 1st cycle.
guides on the country :
- Cuba : Guides Gallimard
- Le Grand Guide de Cuba :
Bibliothèque du voyageur,
- Cuba Tierra Caliente : published by
- Fin de siècle à La Havane
: by J F Fogel and B Rosenthal, Seuil
- Che Guevara, compagnon de la
Révolution, by J Cormier,
- Caribbean by James Michener
- Travels in equinoctial America by
Alexander von Humbolt
- Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene
- The Old Man and the Sea, The Garden of
Eden, by Ernest Hemmingway
-"Exporter à Cuba" collection
L'essentiel d'un marché, published
by the CFCE, 1999, 150 FF
amount of alcohol and tobacco that you can
export is controlled by the customs.
It is forbidden to take out more than 50
cigarettes and 1.5 liters of alcohol per
You are not allowed to bring into Cuba
fresh or natural foodstuffs.
Animals are not accepted on the
Attention : you cannot take photos in
museums or military zones.
There is a shortage of water : residents
of Havana get supplied by water
Electrical cuts are quite frequent.
There is the sun, the palm trees and the
long sandy beaches.
But Cuba has also got a very rich cultural
background and a large variety of
Rice paddies, sugar cane and tobacco
plantations lie side by side in the valley
of Vinales, while Old Havana and Trinidad
are classified as World Heritage by
More than any other island the "pearl of
the West Indies" is proud and pleased to
show off its music, its dancing, its
cigars and its cocktails.
Visit the colonial towns of Trinidad and
Havana, but don't miss the region of
Vinales at the heart of the Cuban tobacco
golden triangle. See the "mogotes", these
strange limestone mountains called
And the sea : take a cruise, go diving and
Cigars are half the price compared to
Europe, but don't buy your "puros" in the
street - the good addresses are the
Palacio del Tabaco at the Corona factory
and Casa del Habano at the Partagas
Cuban rum is delicious. Handicraft
specialities are leather, wood, marble
objects and jewelry.
Keep your invoices, specially for
You need an export permit if you buy a
painting, you can get or buy one ($10)
from the art gallery.
Beware : You are not allowed to
bring coral, tortoiseshell or crocodile
skin into France.
Cubans enjoy musical and dancing
shows (the Tropicana in Havana)
From Havana to Santiago and from Trinidad
to Varadero, the Salsa tells the story of
a people and gives rythme to their
The best address if you want to listen to
good music is the Palacio de la Salsa in
On the Malecon, in the basement of the
Hotel Riviera, it is beyond double the
temple of Cuban music.
Other good places are the Casa de la
Musica in Miramar and the Casa de la Trova
There is an admission charge, it
is forbidden to take photos.