In an exclusive interview with CubaPlus magazine, Abraham Maciques, Palco Group’s president, provided an overview on how the idea came about to build exhibition grounds that would enable the Island not only to hold commercial fairs but also be a source of income, both of which the country needed.
“Havana’s Convention Palace was built with the purpose of hosting international congresses and fairs and opened in September 1979 with the completion of the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement,” explained the founder of the Convention Centre and Pabexpo. “Both conferences and fairs were held in the Palace, including Havana’s first International Business Fair (FIHAV), but with the third edition we saw that this enclosure had become too small and the idea of building a facility for those events was formed”.
“Shortly thereafter and with the approval of our Commander in Chief, Fidel Castro, the construction of Pabexpo began, which was completed in only six months”, he explained. “Starting in 1987 Havana’s International Business Fair was moved there and a few years later was again moved, this time to Expocuba, on the outskirts of the capital. The commercial meeting started booming in the region to the point of becoming one of the three most important fairs in Latin America and the Caribbean today”, he stated.
For Maciques, FIHAV has played a very important role in Cuba’s industrial development. It has generated many connections with the purpose of establishing joint enterprises and cooperatives with other nations, while taking advantage of capabilities that were idle in sectors such as the textile industry, among others.
“Pabexpo, which last year recorded a revenue of about $ 7 million, has hosted numerous trade and thematic fairs throughout its 30 years. It has also highlighted important historical moments of the country, such as when it served as the space to record educational programs for schools and classes taught by television”, he said proudly.
“Also”, he said, “ the CELAC Summit was held here in 2014, when the heads of State and Government of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean agreed to declare the region a peace zone”.
“To comply satisfactorily with the work it is assigned, Pabexpo boasts a group of 83 workers, profesional and experienced in the areas of: organizational design, mounting, insurance, warehousing and gastronomy who always give their best”, said Maciques, head of Palco Group which is made up of 10 companies.
Pabexpo’s calendar of events includes more than 12 annual fairs, covering areas of health, construction, computing, industry, hospitality, food, crafts, water resources, packages and packaging, security, renewable energy, among other topics that are priorities for the country. We are also working with Fira Barcelona, an important organizer in Catalonia, to organize fairs together to be exhibited at Pabexpo.
Pabexpo works in close coordination with Cuba’s Chamber of Commerce and the Centre for the Promotion of Foreign Trade and Investment (ProCuba),constantly contributing to holding more professional fairs with related services, such as business rounds, presentations and conferences.
“Because of its international prestige, for the role it plays Latin America and the Caribbean and the level achieved in organizing trade fairs, Cuba is destined to become the capital of congresses and fairs of the region, hence the need to carry out the project of building a new, bigger venue with an adjoining hotel that might be close to the International José Martí airport”, announced Maciques.