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So, You Still Think There's An Embargo, XXXII
Tuesday, March 27, 2007   By: Juan Paxety

Political parties don't matter - it's all about buying your constituents' votes

Nebraska's governor Dave Heineman has made a return trip to the land of the castro brothers and is in the process of making another deal for the farmers in his state.  It's the Republican governor's third trip to fidel and raul's tropical workers' paradise. In the past, Heineman has sold corn, wheat, turkey, beans, port and beef.  (Heineman's first trip stirred up a bit of controversy.) Today's report from the Freemont Tribune:

Cuban officials scheduled a signing ceremony at the capital's Hotel Palco for Tuesday night, but Heineman would not say how much those contracts would be worth. He said Nebraska officials are beginning to explore shipping medical supplies to Cuba, but negotiations on this trip will focus on dry beans, soy beans, wheat, beef and pork.

There had been talk the governor would postpone his visit after 80-year-old Fidel Castro fell ill, ceding power to his 75-year-old brother, Raul, following emergency intestinal surgery last summer. But Heineman, who traveled here with 31 state officials and business leaders, said most of Nebraska's dealings are with the island's food import company, Alimport, not the office of Cuba's president.

"We're down here for a long-term relationship," he said. "This is not about just this year or next year. We want to be down here for years to come. Ten years from now, even when I'm no longer the governor."

Heineman's desire for a long-term relationship should not shock folks who've been paying attention. Despite what you might hear elsewhere, the United States is the number one supplier of food to Cuba. 

Many Americans think their government's 45-year-old embargo blocks all trade with the communist government, but the United States is the top supplier of food and agricultural products to Cuba. In fact, many Cubans depend on rations grown in Arkansas and North Dakota for their rice and beans. 

The site, is quoting Heineman as saying he wants to see normalized relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

The governor pointed out that the "mutually advantageous" society established with Cuban authorities is particularly important to Nebraska farmers and ranchers, and criticized the restrictions imposed by the US economic blockade of the island nation.

"We will continue with our goal of trading with Cuba, we express our gratitude for that relationship and we will continue to expand it in the future," stressed Heineman, who is here with 30 businesspeople from his state.

Herein lies the rub.  The castro boys have a 50-year history of not paying their debts.  Treasury Department rules require Cuba to pay for food up front - before the ship leaves the dock.  Folks who talk about increasing trade with Cuba usually want the U.S. to extend credit to the castros.  What happens when they don't pay?  Will Nebraska's farmers quietly accept the risk and realize they should not have extended credit to a deadbeat?  Probably not - like the California spinach growers, they'll go whining to Congress and get their money from you and me.

For a good rant on how the castro boys have taken Cuba from being a productive society to a third world country, read Mora at Babalu.


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