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So, You Still Think There's An Embargo - XVI
Tuesday, August 09, 2005   By: Juan Paxety

More on those Vermont cows

Vermont officials have arrived in Havana, delivering cows to restock Cuba's heard, and delivering themselves to beg for more trade with fidel. Lt. Governor Brian Dubie and Agriculture Secretary Steve Kerr have been meeting with Cuban officials, an so far have secured a promise to buy more Vermont apples and powdered milk.

Accompanying them is a local journalist - Bruce Edwards of the Rutland Herald. He seems to understand the issues and reports in a straightforward manner things I wouldn't expect to see from most journalists. For instance, in today's story, we learn that Dubie and Kerr are actually asked Cuban officials about the reports that food imported from the U.S. is never seen by the Cuban people - that it all goes to the tourist hotels.

Kerr and Dubie said their Cuban counterparts tried to assure them most food imports do benefit the average Cuban. Kerr said officials told him "the purpose of buying more cows is to feed the Cuban people."

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba slaughtered its dairy herds in order to feed people. With the reduction of dairy cows, there is no longer enough milk. Or so the story goes. Prior to fidel's communism, Cuba had plenty of beef - in fact, it was one of the more beef-eating countries in Latin America. Cuba now hopes to increase its herd to 4-million cows - the number it had before the slaughter.

Despite allegations about what happens to food imports intended for Cuban residents, there is an apparent lack of fresh milk at Cuba's most famous hotel. At breakfast Saturday morning, Kerr pointed to a glass of milk he said was, without question, of the powdered variety.

And if the Hotel Nacional, Cuba's five-star hotel, isn't serving fresh milk to its guests, Kerr said it's highly unlikely it is going to any other tourist hotel.

So, we learn that Dubie and Kerr are staying at a five-star hotel that can't supply anything but powdered milk. Maybe Bruce Edwards will go outside the tourist hotels and see if he sees any signs of Vermont foods on the tables of the Cuban people.

I think it's emailing time again:

Dear Bruce:
I'm reading with great interest your reports from Cuba.  I was particularly interested in the paragraph in today's story (August 9) that said the Vermont officials questioned whether the food imported from the U.S. goes to the Cuban people or only to the tourist hotels.
Why don't you go out among the people and see if you see any signs of U.S. food in the stores for the ordinary Cuban to buy - or if you see any sign of U.S. food in the kitchens of ordinary Cubans.
Other reports say the U.S. has sent more than $1-billion in food to Cuba in the past few years, so I would think there would be some sign of it.
I'll look forward to your report on this very important issue.
Best regards,
Juan Paxety



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