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So, You Still Think There's An Embargo - XVII
Wednesday, August 17, 2005   By: Juan Paxety

$17-million for Nebraska

Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman (R) seems to be having a successful trade and vote buying adventure in Cuba. The Cuban government has agreed to spend $17-million on Nebraska farm products including Great Northern beans, corn and wheat. The Guardian says it's the first time Great Northerns have been shipped to Cuba since fidel came to power.

"I know that Nebraska farmers and ranchers will be very happy with this agreement,'' said Heineman, who led a 10-member trade delegation including Agriculture Secretary Greg Ibach.

There have been lots of complaints about the new U.S. Treasury Department policy that requires Cuba to pay cash for goods before they leave the dock, but the policy has not stopped trade.

Pedro Alvarez, the chairman of Cuba's food import company Alimport, said Cuba has spent $326 million on U.S. products so far this year and will likely pass the amount it spent in 2004 - about $475 million despite the new rule.

I'm still waiting for one of you opponents of the rule to explain why the U.S. taxpayer should oppose the U.S. payment policy.

CNN reports that governors who have taken the trip to Cuba have faced criticism from, gasp, Republicans. It will be interesting to see if Republicans criticize Heineman, a fellow Republican.

The CNN article goes on to report about Heineman:

In a news conference Tuesday, he also avoided confirming the veracity of a Cuban news agency article that said he "advocated the normalization of relations with Cuba" shortly after arriving to Havana.

He later told the AP he hadn't spoken to any Cuban media.

He still says his trip has nothing to do with foreign policy. Is he really that clueless, or is he just being a slippery politician. Or maybe he's so concerned with vote buying from Nebraska farmers, he's got tunnel vision.


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