21 April 2018 - Time to Work with our Neighbor, Cuba

For the first time in nearly sixty years, the island nation of Cuba, just 90 miles south of Florida, will not be governed by a member of the Castro family. Like many of you, I remember the early 60’s when Fidel Castro overthrew the government and turned it into a Communist-governed nation just 90 miles off our coast. In retaliation, the United States imposed one of the most unsuccessful trade embargoes in history, cutting off all trade with Cuba. A lot of that trade involved agricultural products and it affected farmers here in the United States.

With the naming of a new President last week, things could be changing. James Williams, President of Engage Cuba, hopes they will change. Let me share some of what he had to say. . . “The ascension of President Diaz-Canel marks a historic generational change in Cuba. While many will speculate on what this change will mean, much is unknown. What we do know is that the future of Cuba is for the Cuban people to decide, and we should play a constructive role in the process.”

He went on to say . . . “What we in the United States can do is design U. S. policy to best encourage the change we’d like to see. For almost 60 years we have pursued an embargo policy that has failed. With the new generational leadership in Cuba, we now have an opportunity to re-imagine our policy for the 21st century. We know that continuing the embargo will not work, so let us not double down on 60 years of failure. President Trump and Congress should seize this moment, support the Cuban private sector, let Americans compete and look to the future with a modern policy of constructive engagement.”

I fully agree with Mr. Williams on the need to have a policy change in Cuba. I visited Cuba in 1999 as part of a Humanitarian Mission , and all I heard from the Cuban people was we love Americans, we love American tourists, we miss the long-grain Texas rice and we miss many of the other food products from the U. S. Cuban dairy farmers said they missed the genetics from the United States.

I am hopeful we will do what Mr. Williams suggests and re-establish a more equitable trade and diplomatic relationship with Cuba.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.