28 February, 2010 - Is the trade embargo finally ending?

Can it really be happening? Is it possible that finally we will end the worst trade embargo ever imposed by the U.S. government. I'm talking about the trade embargo with Cuba that started as a partial embargo in 1959 under President Eisenhower and became a full trade and travel embargo under President Kennedy in 1962, the year we nearly went to nuclear war with the Soviet Union because of the Cuban missile crisis.

For those of you who weren't even born then, some brief history is in order. Back in the late 1950's Fidel Castro overthrew the Cuban government and converted the country to Communism. That created a major concern in Washington; government officials said we could not allow the Soviet Union to have a military base just 90 miles from the coast of Florida. So, by imposing the full embargo we would force the Cuban people into a counter-revolution to throw Castro out of office and establish a democratic form of government because we would deprive the Cuban people of vital needs for their economy and well-being...U.S. tourism dollars, food and manufactured goods.

That was 50 years ago, Fidel Castro is still alive, his brother Raoul is President and the country is still Communist. So why didn't the trade embargo work?...because we didn't totally control the commodities being embargoed and Cuba got its food needs from Australia, Canada, Vietnam, Brazil and the European Union. Meanwhile, U.S. farmers, the closest to Cuba to provide all of these products, have been frozen out of that market by our own government.

But change could be coming; finally, House Ag. Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, recently introduced legislation to expand U.S. agricultural export trade to Cuba and it needs your support. The bill is H.R. 4645, The Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, co-sponsored by 30 other House members from both parties. Chairman Peterson said "Helping feed Cuba is good for the U.S. economy and good for the Cuban people. This bill increases the ability of our farmers to sell their products to Cuba just like they do with other trading partners."

The act would eliminate the need to both go through banks in other countries to conduct agricultural trades and the accompanying fees those banks charge. It would also allow U.S. citizens to travel freely to Cuba to do face-to-face selling of our agricultural products. Cuba is not a huge agricultural market, but in this economy, U.S. producers need every export dollar they can get. This failed embargo should have been terminated three decades ago, but now is the time to support Chairman Peterson and H.R. 4645. I strongly suggest you contact your Congressman and urge a YES vote on H.R. 4645.

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