More U.S. lawmakers visit Cuba to gauge trade possibilities

Marcelino Medina González (in photo at top), Cuba’s deputy foreign minister, has been meeting this week with visiting U.S. legislators, according to the Foreign Ministry’s website.

On Monday (Oct. 12), he hosted Reps. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.) On Tuesday, he met with Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) and Rodney Davis (R-Ill.)

Present at both meetings was Josefina Vidal, director of the ministry’s U.S. Affairs Department, who has been the chief Cuban negotiator at the bilateral talks involving diplomatic and economic relations.

According to the MinRex, Medina discussed with his visitors “the process of actualization of Cuba’s economic model, Cuba’s foreign policy and the recent status of relations between the two countries. Also, both parties talked about the debate in the U.S. Congress over that country’s policy toward Cuba and the lifting of the blockade.”

Bustos and Davis are in Cuba as part of a bipartisan agricultural trade mission “to establish new economic development and export opportunities for Illinois farmers,” according to Bustos’ website.

Their trip will include meetings and discussions with officials from the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alimport (which coordinates all overseas purchases in Cuba), a tour of the Cuban marketplace and several additional diplomatic meetings. Trade mission participants include officials from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Soybean Growers, Illinois Corn and AGCO.

“We need to work together to cut through the red tape that holds back Illinois’ farming economy,” said Bustos before the trip. “Illinois farmers have what it takes to compete and succeed on the global economic playing field. So I’m deeply concerned about how the Cuban embargo has limited their ability to grow and create jobs across our state.”

Davis said that he is “looking forward to learning more about how improving agricultural trade with a country that imports roughly 70 percent of its food and is located just 90 miles from our coast can create greater opportunities for Illinois farmers.”

Both lawmakers said that, after returning from Cuba, they will meet with Illinois farmers, business leaders and trade experts to discuss what they’ve learned and “help connect Illinois’ agriculture community with the knowledge needed to tap into Cuba’s markets.”

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