WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Trade with Cuba is a prospect that remains in limbo. With the Donald Trump Administration now in the White House, it is unclear what the future holds for the Cuba-U.S. relationship. Lawmakers in agriculture-flush Louisiana are divided on how the U.S. should proceed...
Senator Kennedy (R-LA) says he needs to see reforms in Cuba before he is OK with normalizing relations.
“Trade with Cuba is critical,” said Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA).
Abraham says there is a world of opportunity for his state. He says Cuba imports most of its agricultural goods. He wants Louisiana to fill that need.
“We want the Cuban people to prosper,” said Abraham. “We want them to be more like us in America, have choices in their life. And in my opinion, the way to do that is to give them American goods, American dollars. “
One of the biggest concerns from the Trump Administration, and other lawmakers in the U.S., is the oppression of the Cuban people under the Raul Castro regime. Abraham says Castro is evil, but American commerce can help create change.
“If the people do better, you know, perhaps the government could do better,” said Abraham.
He says it is not realistic to wait for social change in Cuba before trade begins. But his colleague Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) says he needs to see reform before relations are normalized.
“There are things more important than money in this world, and it’s called morality and doing the right thing,” said Kennedy. “And it terms of its human rights record, Cuba has a horrible record.”
Kennedy says he understands the economic upside that could come from this relationship. He says he is hopeful Cuba will come around on societal changes so they can reap the benefits of a free market system.
“Their form of government is ungodly, and it undermines human dignity,” said Kennedy. “And they need to change their ways, or at least show some indication that they’re willing to.”
Both lawmakers say they plan to work with the administration as it solidifies its stance on Cuba.