The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee has voted to ease the new Bush administration restrictions on trade with Cuba. The vote was by voice, so we can't hold individual members responsible.
The Treasury Department requires fidel to pay for agricultural goods in cash before the ship carrying the goods is allowed to leave the dock. The House bill would change that. From The Washington Post:
Under the amendment, which must be considered by the full House and Senate, transactions with Cuba would be governed by previous rules allowing ships to be dispatched while awaiting payment.
The language is attached to a bill funding the Treasury Department and other federal agencies beginning Oct. 1
Here's why Congress is acting:
The American food industry, including rice, meat, dairy, vegetable and shipping interests, complained that the Treasury Department rule threatened U.S. exports valued at up to $450 million a year.
In a letter to lawmakers, industry groups on Monday complained that the regulation "has hindered the payment process by requiring an additional letter of credit for the Cuban buyer."
I take this as meaning the restriction is effective. castro has a long history of not paying for things - I'm sure having to pay cash has "hindered the payment process" from his point of view. I don't understand the greed of American corporations - so greedy to make deals that they will risk not getting paid at all.
More From Louisiana
It would appear Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco so enjoyed her visit with fidel back in March that Louisiana plans another trade mission to Cuba. The Shreveport Times is reporting the state's economic development planners want to go back in search for more deals for Louisiana businesses - probably in July.
Before Castro seized power in 1959, Havana was New Orleans' largest trading partner. Last year, the value of Louisiana exports to Cuba totaled just under $165 million, up 9.5 percent from the previous year and 85.5 percent more than in 2003.
Cattle From Vermont
Three Cuban officials are in Barnet, Vermont this week inspecting cattle. They want to bring new stock to the island in hopes of becomming self sufficient in milk production. From the Billings Gazette:
The Cuban delegation, which also includes a cattle expert and a veterinarian, is in Vermont this week, inspecting animals that were lined up for them by the Brattleboro-based Holstein Association. In all, the Cubans plan to purchase 500 head from Vermont, Maine and Pennsylvania.
Vermont officials attended a trade fair in Havana and signed a contract for the cows.
"We've got good genetics here. We've got good quality cattle; they're hardy cattle," state Veterinarian Kerry Rood said. "They're cattle that have been bred over the years for confirmation of milk production. We also have a disease status in our state that is favorable."
Vermont farmers William and Gwen Pearl expected to be paid $1,900 for each of the four heifers.
$1900 dollars is equal to the average Cuban family's earnings over a period of 7-years and 11-months.