Van 't Wout
Van 't Wout is the last name of a Dutch
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 family that conducts its business through Indiana Finance BV (formerly Fondel Finance B.V.), conducting 70 to 80 percent of Dutch trade with Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...


Father Willem van 't Wout started his financial career during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, stealing yeast from the occupying Germans and selling it to a bakery. In the 1950s he started international trading in scrap metal. He specialises in 'politically complicated countries', as they put it. After his first encounter with Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

, he bought a large amount of nickel
Nickel is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Ni and atomic number 28. It is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge. Nickel belongs to the transition metals and is hard and ductile...

, the most important export product of Cuba. Yet, it is precisely these difficulties that opened opportunities to do business where no one else dared tread. Eventually, it all paid off.

Quotation is the repetition of someone else's statement/thoughts. This can be in the form of words, songs, American Sign Language, written, or any other form of communication. Quotation marks are punctuation marks used in text to indicate the words of another speaker or writer...

 lists van 't Wout as the 384th wealthiest Dutchman. In 1991 he was elected Rotterdam
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. Starting as a dam on the Rotte river, Rotterdam has grown into a major international commercial centre...

mer of the year. He is the official Cuba expert retained by Dutch "behind the news" television show Netwerk
Netwerk is a Dutch 'behind the news' television show on Nederland 2....

. As of 2006, he is preparing to retire and hand over his business to his relatives. Austin and Mike each continue in the metal trade. Son-in-law Ronald trades in used buses and construction equipment. In 2006 he closed a deal to deliver 200 used Rotterdam city buses to Cuba, where Dutch buses have been in use for years. Another son-in-law exports food products to Cuba. Indiana Finance had a turnover of 1.5 billion euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

 in 2005, 30% of which is accounted for trade with Cuban.

Castro's 2006 illness did not influence the business, since trade is conducted largely with Cuban ministers, according to van 't Wout, who believes that Castro's passing will have little effect on his firm. The Van 't Wouts say they are apolitical. "As a trade organisation you can't really bring about a regime change."

Daughter Merel is a fashion designer and has served in the past as Castro's personal tailor, convincing him to occasionally change from his customary military attire to a business suit. She says green doesn't suit him at all. Unlike her father, who calls him 'señor presidente', she addresses Castro as 'Fidel' and amicably slaps him on the shoulder, an attitude that he liked so much it helped convince him of her views.

The van 't Wouts were the only Dutch representatives invited for Castro's birthday in 2006.


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