Friday, March 27, 2015

Sen. Rubio calls trade with Cuba 'trafficking in stolen goods'

Sen. Rubio calls trade with Cuba 'trafficking in stolen goods'
Sen. Marco Rubio shares his concerns over opening trade with Cuba with
state Farm Bureaus.
Published on: Mar 27, 2015

Imagine if someone came in and stole your farm. The thieves are growing
crops on that farm using your land, equipment and investments. Then 15
years later, they sell the crops to the country you used to market to
for a profit.

This scenario will play out if the U.S. expands trade with Cuba,
according to Sen. Marco Rubio. "Every single piece of farmland in Cuba
today, every major agricultural crop was once owned by private owners
including American companies," the senator from Florida explained. "They
were stolen. They were confiscated. If you allow the import of
agricultural goods from Cuba into the United States, you are allowing
them to traffic in stolen goods."

While Rubio was not making any presidential announcements to the members
of four state Farm Bureau delegations gathered at the Capital Visitors
Center, he was talking ag trade with Cuba. Missouri has been on the
forefront of petitioning Congress to lift the embargo on Cuba and pursue
trade opportunities.

Just last month, Missouri 's First Lady Georganne Nixon, along with
Missouri Director of Agriculture Richard Fordyce and members of the U.S.
Agriculture Coalition for Cuba traveled to Havana to discuss the
possibility of opening trade. In all, 75 individuals accompanied them on
the trade mission, of those, 30 represented Missouri agribusiness and
agriculture commodity interests.

If the U.S. lifts the embargo, estimates show that $4.3 billion in goods
could be sold to Cuba annually. Fordyce said that Missouri wants to be
there to capture some of those dollars. "Missouri's agriculture
diversity gives us a real competitive advantage because many of the
current imports into Cuba are exactly the things we are growing here in
Missouri," he said. Missouri is a leading state in producing corn,
soybeans, rice, beef, pork, poultry, apples and wine. "These same goods
are top imports of Cuba," Fordyce added. "Missouri is well-placed to go
into the country."

But despite the room being filled with farmers and ranchers from
Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota and Texas, Rubio made it clear that the path
some state Farm Bureaus want in regard to lifting the embargo on Cuba is
not one he wants to take.

Cause for caution

Rubio's own family comes from a farming background in Cuba. "They were
sharecroppers," he said. "They grew tobacco." However, that property his
family relied on for a source of income today is completely under the
control of the Cuban government.

Rubio shared how the Cuban government through its military's holding
company named Grupo de Administracion Empresarial S.A. or GAESA owns the
entire Cuban economy. "They own hotels. They own farms. They own
everything," he said. "To do business with Cuba would require you to do
business with a military dictatorship. And doing business with them is
not a two way street."

Currently, there are agriculture goods sold to Cuba, but only on a cash
basis, never on credit. "There is a reason why," Rubio told the group.
"They don't pay. That is a big problem." He noted that there is $7
billion worth of American claims with Cuba that remain unpaid.

Changing lives

Rubio shared with Farm Bureau members that there is more than just
agriculture trade at stake.

"What I primarily care about are the Cuban people," he said.

He explained that if the United States lifts the embargo against Cuba,
it loses the political advantage to free the Cuban people from a
communist dictatorship. It is a country where the average salary of a
government employee is $20 per month.

The embargo serves as "leverage" to require the Cuban government to
pursue a democratic society. Rubio wants to see things like independent
political parties, individuals to be able to speak out openly and the
ability to have freedom of the press. Without these changes, he said,
the United States should not pursue trade with Cuba.

Source: Sen. Rubio calls trade with Cuba 'trafficking in stolen goods' -
Farm Progress -

Source: Sen. Rubio calls trade with Cuba 'trafficking in stolen goods' -
Farm Progress -

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