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Brazilian Presidential Advisor Marco Aurelio García said during a work visit in Cuba Wednesday that the expansion of the Port of Mariel will be complete in 2014.

Two tranches of a $800 million Brazilian government loan for the project have already been disbursed, and a third tranche has been approved but not yet been paid, García said in a press conference in Havana, after meeting with President Raúl Castro. Going beyond the originally agreed $800 million, Brazil and Cuba are negotiating an additional loan, he said, without specifying.

The expansion of the container and oil logistics port west of Havana, executed by a subsidiary of Brazil’s Odebrecht Group, will make Mariel one of the busiest cargo ports on the island. Eventually, it will handle all cargo operations now handled by the Port of Havana.

Construction of docks will begin in June, and construction of roads will be completed by September, said García, who later toured the construction site. Container operations will be managed by a non-Brazilian company; Cuba contracted Singapore’s PSA International Pte. for the job, according to sources close to the project.

Mariel aside, the Brazilians talked about the Cubasoy joint venture on a soy and corn farm in Ciego de Ávila province, according to García. Another project, construction of a joint venture lubricants plant by state company Petrobras, is “advancing,” according to García.

Meanwhile, Petrobras quietly relinquished an offshore block in Cuban waters of the Gulf of Mexico last fall it had leased in 2008. Seismic exploration had not yielded any promising results, García told reporters. In April last year, Petrobras had asked Cuba to grant a six-month extension of the lease.

Castro talked with the special advisor of international affairs for Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff about the “excellent state of relations between Cuba and Brazil, particularly the development and perspectives of economic and trade links,” the Communist Party newspaper said. 

Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez and Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca also participated in the meeting.

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