A few weeks ago it was my privilege to spend time with our new U.S. congressman, David Rouzer, discussing the potential of a new effort to promote the sale of North Carolina agriculture products to the Republic of Cuba.
One aspect of our dialog was the need for change in the current Marxist Communist regime. On this issue, we were in agreement. However, how to effect that change found us at odds. We had to respectfully agree to disagree, and I can honor such dialog when conducted in an atmosphere of respect and civility as was our time together.
Congressman Rouzer holds to the long-held position that the embargo and isolating Cuba are the most effective means of bringing change to Cuba and that trade and travel with and to Cuba only bolster a faltering system.
I take the opposite approach and support the current effort to re-engage with Cuba as a means of supporting the civil society of Cuba and the newly emerging private businesses now growing by leaps and bounds. The genie is out of the bottle in Cuba. The rest of the world is already trading with Cuba. We, the United States, are the ones isolated, not Cuba. “Isolating” Cuba has not worked. It is a total failure.
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Our farmers and agribusinesses need new markets! Cuba needs many of the agricultural products North Carolina produces to feed its people. I have spoken to major apple growers in Western North Carolina who are eager to renew their sales to Cuban markets.
Missouri, Iowa, Texas, South Carolina, Louisiana, New York and many other states have sent or are preparing to send agricultural delegations to Cuba as a new day of trade relations emerges. Why not North Carolina?
Cuba is changing. Let’s be a part of speeding up that change and benefiting our North Carolina agribusinesses in the process.
The writer has been traveling to Cuba from North Carolina for the past 21 years. He led the N.C. Carolina Department of Agriculture on its first agribusiness mission to Cuba in December 2000.