Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Congressman reflects on recent Cuba trip

Congressman reflects on recent Cuba trip
Apr 10, 2017

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Cuba with several of my
colleagues on a 3-day congressional delegation. On this trip, we saw the
country and were warmly welcomed by citizens and government officials
alike. While everyone knows that the cars and architecture look like the
year is still 1959, so much has changed, and in a very positive way.
Cuba is becoming a modern country, and very much wants to engage with
and trade with America.

While much about our past relations with Cuba can be debated, one thing
this trip cemented for me is how dramatically our current policy of
isolation has failed. Cuba has moved on, as has the rest of the world.
The 50-year-old embargo now only serves to generate animosity toward
America and to arbitrarily limit our citizens' chances to engage with
Cubans. The moves over the last two years toward greater engagement are
already paying dividends in peoples' hearts and minds. Folks there are
getting a taste of capitalism, and are craving more.

Greater engagement in Cuba can lead to positive changes. Americans and
Cubans have a great deal in common; the importance of family, a strong
sense of patriotism and entrepreneurship. These commonalities will only
become greater as we continue to engage, and Cuba continues to
modernize. The spread of the internet in Cuba is opening dialogues that
previously couldn't occur. More than a third of the island's workers are
now in the private sector. Tourism continues to boom, even with travel
restrictions placed on the nation by its neighbor.

Opening relations with Cuba should be a win-win for Cuban and American
citizens. A healthy relationship with the country would foster greater
mutual security, additional trade opportunities and greater human
rights. For our Kansas farmers and ranchers, Cuba is a natural export
market. They represent a potential top-10 wheat market, and as their
tourism continues to grow, demand for higher quality protein sources
will match well for our livestock producers. In a time of record low
commodity prices, we cannot be arbitrarily choosing markets in which not
to sell. We are only holding ourselves back.

Though lifting the embargo is the ultimate issue, a good first step
would be to allow American banks and financial institutions to provide
financing. To this end, I have co-sponsored H.R. 525, the Cuba
Agricultural Exports Act, to achieve just that.

This trip was a remarkable opportunity to learn more about the
opportunities ahead of us with Cuba. I am proud to be a member of the
Cuba Working Group, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to
continue to build relations between our two countries.

—Congressman Roger Marshall serves on the House Ag Committee, the
Committee on Science, Space and Technology, and the House Small Business

Source: Congressman reflects on recent Cuba trip | Opinion | hpj.com -

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