Illinois lawmakers’ trip to Cuba with President Obama

During President Barack Obama’s historic meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro, lawmakers from our area were also in Cuba. Senator Dick Durbin said the visit gave him new insight on the opportunities that the United States could have with Cuba. “We can sell them corn, soybeans, rice, meat and a lot of things that they need and they can sell back organic food that we can use,” said Durbin.

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos was also there and said there’s a large amount of people in the agriculture industry here in the Quad Cities that could benefit from trade with Cuba. “It’s about a 2 billion dollar-a-year market that we could have access to, if we start exporting more of our valuable goods to Cuba,” said Bustos.

Bustos said one of the problems with Cuban exports is that Cubans don’t have access to credit. “The transactions that we have with what we are sending they have to pay in advance and they have to pay in cash,” said Bustos.

Before anything can happen both lawmakers said congress needs to lift the trade embargo with Cuba. “It does take congressional action and there are a handful of members of congress from both political parties in both chambers who are resistant to any change with our policy with Cuba in the slightest,” said Durbin.

Senator Mark Kirk released a statement on his thoughts on President Obama’s trip to Cuba. “The President silences Cuban dissidents as he elevates the voice of Castro. I stand with those who fight for human dignity and personal freedom. The Rubio/Kirk bill supports the Cuban people, not dictators or their military,” said Kirk in a release.

Christina Hepner,

March 23, 2016

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