By: Eric Ellis
As positions on both sides of the Florida Strait softened, Pereda’s business dealings with the Cuban government won him a place on the board of Engage Cuba, a Washington lobby group backed by businesses such as Procter & Gamble, Viacom and Honeywell and a range of industry and civil society institutions. Engage Cuba’s mantra is for the two ideological enemies to set aside their hostilities and trade to each side’s benefit. "No business in the world would continue a strategy that has failed for 55 years," Engage says of the US embargo. On March 12 last year, Seleski got a call from Pereda, who was in Washington dining with Mark Wells, who ran the US State Department’s Cuba desk and was leading the Obama initiative to normalize relations between Havana and Washington. As Wells explained to Pereda, these negotiations had hit an unexpected and potentially deal-breaking roadblock. Havana could not secure even the most basic banking arrangements for its proposed embassy in Washington.