The convention did not however, run entirely smoothly. Cuban delegates were asked to leave the venue, the American-owned Sheraton Hotel because of pressure from the US Treasury Department. It was asserted that the Mexico City Sheraton is a subsidiary of an American company and that the meeting was a violation of the embargo. Discussion was later resumed at another hotel.
Both Cuba and foreign industry have been keenly pursuing oil projects for a number of years now. Cuba is aware that oil could turn its future around, and it was to this end that exploratory drilling was conducted in its virgin Gulf of Mexico waters in July 2004. Not only would it be transformed from an oil-importing, cash-strapped island into a net petroleum exporter, but such activities would severely undermine the US embargo.
Over the last three years the port of Corpus Christi shipped 20,000 tons of beans and 50,000 tons of grain to Cuba – two of the very few items allowed under the embargo. If lifted, the first proposal up for consideration would involve oil. Corpus Christi already possesses refining capability and the development of Cuban oil reserves would boost industries like offshore rig manufacturers and oil drilling and production services.
The weekend meeting was attended by major companies including Exxon-Mobil, which announced record profits the following Monday, Valero and Caterpillar construction.