Cuba sees economic slump despite US detente

HAVANA (AP) – Cuban officials say the island’s economy shrank this year despite an increased opening with the United States.

Economy Minister Ricardo Cabrisas says the island’s gross domestic product fell nearly 1 percent after seeing a growth rate of nearly 3 percent from 2011-2015.

Cabrisas on Tuesday blamed the slump on shrinking exports and financial troubles in allied Venezuela.

Cabrisas said a drop in petroleum prices for the South American country limited its sale of crude oil to Cuba as well as the number of contracts for professional services. A large number of Cuban doctors have long traveled to Venezuela, with their salaries going directly to the Cuban government.

Cabrisas also blamed U.S. sanctions on Cuba. Officials say the 55-year-old embargo has cost the island $125.9 billion, including $4.6 billion last year.

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