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So, You Still Think There's An Embargo Of Cuba - XXVIII
Monday, April 10, 2006 By: Juan Paxety
US-Cuba Trade Association wants regional chapters across Florida
Long-time castro appeaser and friend Kirby Jones is hoping to set up branches of his US-Cuba Trade Association all across the state of Florida. The goal of the Association is to lift what's left of the embargo, and to allow fidel to charge purchases from the United States. This despite the long record of the Cuban government failing to pay its bills.
Jones will hold a seminar in Orlando on Thursday (April 13) seeking to set up the branches, and according to MSNBC, Tampa area businesses are very interested. Just look at what they are saying:
Trade at this point is small, said Arthur R. Savage, president and CEO of A.R. Savage & Son Inc. in Tampa and one of the founding members of the USCTA's Florida chapter. It has resulted only in a few animal feed supplement shipments, phosphate-based products and refrigerated cargo going to Cuba from Tampa Bay.
"The U.S.-Cuba Trade Association is there to help people navigate that minefield so they can be successful," said Savage. "The only thing that is hampering business right now is the U.S. government. That's not the way it's supposed to be. We have products to sell, and they have needs and vice versa. The only thing standing in the way, are our governments."
Mr. Savage is either badly mistaken or telling a lie. As has been reflected here numerous times, the United States is now the largest supplier of food to Cuba. Just in the past year or so, trade missions from Louisiana, Vermont, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana again, Nebraska, Vermont, Nebraska again, North Dakota, and Maine have made deals with Cuba. These deals are for people food such as dairy products, beans, rice, etc. plus cattle to replentish Cuba's herds.
And why is the trade issue always the fault of the U.S. government - and never the fault of a brutal regime, the product of a murderous, totalitarian dictator?
Savage's company is not alone in wanting trade with Cuba.
Other companies that have local operations and that have done business in Cuba include Florida Produce of Hillsborough County Inc. and The Mosaic Co. (NYSE: MOS).
Initial organizing members of the USCTA's Florida chapter include A.R. Savage & Son Inc., Buffalo International, Caterpillar Americas, Duane Morris LLP, North American Partners, Tucker/Hall and United Americas Shipping Services.
"Florida stands to gain the most from open trade and business with Cuba," said Kirby Jones, president of the USCTA. "More companies have visited Cuba from Florida than from any other state in the country."
The group is particularly concentrating on Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay in particular can gain a lot, said Albert A. Fox Jr., president of the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation and a democratic candidate running for Congress to represent the 11th congressional district.
"The Port of Tampa is closer to Havana than the Port of Miami. Why not take advantage of that?" Fox said. "Once it opens up, Tampa can be tremendously influential."
Right now, US companies can sell food and medicine to Cuba, but Cuba must pay up front. If the present trade restrictions are changed to allow companies to sell to fidel on credit, what's to keep him from refusing to pay as he has with all his other trade partners? The proponents of trade never address that issue. Is it because they expect to have the US taxpayer pick up the tab?