Cuba, si | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cuba, si

Posted By on Thu, Apr 2, 2009 at 3:07 PM

U.S. Rep. Marion Berry joined a group today advocating new legislation to lift the ban on most travel to Cuba.

He's right of course. Then trade. Dollars, Coca-Cola and rice, etc., are the quickest route to bringing Cuba into the mainstream.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a press conference today held by members of the Cuba Working Group and Cuban-American leaders, Congressman Berry called for a new approach in U.S. policy toward Cuba. The press conference coincides with the introduction of H.R. 874, the “The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act,” which proposes the repeal of all travel restrictions against the rights of all Americans to travel to Cuba.  The House bill has over 120 bipartisan cosponsors and is supported by a wide coalition of agricultural, religious, and commercial groups, as well as Non-governmental organizations interested in human rights and strengthening relations between the two countries.
"One of the first things we can do to provide some relief for our farmers and our economy would be to lift the trade barriers between the U.S. and Cuba," said Berry.  "By reforming the travel restrictions, we are taking a big first step in laying the groundwork for increased trade and long-term diplomacy in the region."
The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act prohibits the President from regulating or prohibiting travel to or from Cuba by U.S. citizens or legal residents or any of the transactions ordinarily incident to such travel, except during time of war or armed hostilities between the United States and Cuba, or due to imminent danger to the public health or the physical safety of U.S. travelers.
Cuba purchased approximately $700 million in American farm products last year.  Since 2000, U.S. agricultural sales to Cuba averaged about $400 million annually with top commodity sales including poultry, wheat, soybeans, rice and dairy.  Lifting the trade restrictions, would allow the U.S. to be an active competitor in commercial sales with Cuba.  Because of the absence of the U.S. in this market, foreign countries must provide Cuba with imports rather than the United States. 
"Reestablishing trade with Cuba is an important priority for Arkansas as well as America," said Berry.  “The time has come to change from our hard-lined policies of the past and embrace a new direction for Cuban-American relations.

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