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Cuba’s Rum-for-Debt Offer to Czechs Isn’t as Weird as It Sounds

  • Cuba reportedly offered rum to pay $270 million Cold War debt
  • Czechs would probably take more than 100 years to drink it all
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Photographer: Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photo/Getty Images

Cuba’s offer to send rum to the Czech Republic to pay off Cold War-era borrowings may not be as preposterous as it seems, judging by some previous distressed-debt proposals.

Short on cash, officials in Havana have offered to send unspecified commodities and cases of the sugarcane-derived spirit to settle the debt, which a report by Agence France-Presse put at $270 million. The swap between the former Communist comrades -- Cuba and Czechoslovakia were among each other’s 10 largest trading partners in the 1980s -- is the latest in a series of proposals that have seen countries offer up everything from pasta to doctors to settle their borrowings.